New York Mets’ first-year manager Luis Rojas got his first opportunity to see Jacob deGrom take the hill in pseudo-game-action on Sunday and he certainly liked what he saw.
“Watching Jake pitch, he’s in midseason form,” Rojas said with a grin over a Zoom call with reporters.
The two-time defending National League Cy Young Award winner took the hill at Citi Field to throw a simulated game where it became crystal clear from the get-go that the lay-off created by the coronavirus did not impact his dominant tendencies.
“Jake was overmatching guys,” Rojas added. “His stuff was impressive.”
While the few hitters who faced him had little chance, Rojas pointed out that these initial simulated games before the sprint of a 60-game season isn’t about the offense.
“I’m glad we got that competitive vibe out there,” he said. “Some guys did put the ball in play against Jake in that first inning, but this is more for the pitchers — the hitters are getting their timing, tracking in — but it’s about the pitchers.”
There is little disputing that the 32-year-old righty will get the call on Opening Day when the Mets face the Atlanta Braves at Citi Field.
DeGrom’s sighting highlighted the Mets’ third day of summer camp, which also featured Yoenis Cespedes playing the field — an intriguing sight considering the uncertainty of the dependability of his legs, which have featured a multitude of injuries over the past few years. Rojas was non-committal in saying Cespedes would be ready to play the field by Opening Day.
At the moment, Cespedes looks to be a prime candidate to step in as the Mets’ designated hitter in 2020, allowing the team to take full advantage of his powerful bat.
However, Rojas was able to confirm that veteran third baseman Jed Lowrie is a “full go” after a multitude of injuries limited his first season in Queens to all but seven at-bats. He has been seen at Citi Field since Friday wearing a leg brace.
Making his first appearance at Citi Field during summer camp on Sunday was starting shortstop Amed Rosario — who had not reported over the first few days at camp — squashing any rumors that he was dealing with coronavirus-related issues.
When it comes to dealing with baseball lives during the pandemic, the Mets are already settling into a groove, at least according to the skipper.
“We’re still learning and educating ourselves as we go. You can see more consistency when it comes to distancing… everything we have to do in order for everyone to be safe, which is a priority here,” Rojas said. “The guys are getting more comfortable here each day. They’re getting into that routine.”
“Once they get on the field, we’re focusing on what we need to do… We’re learning, growing in this. The guys are able to focus on the field because they’re owning this.”