Mets’ Jacob deGrom gets clean MRI on shoulder, no plans for IL

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NEW YORK — The New York Mets relaxed after a night of worry: a scan of ace Jacob deGrom‘s shoulder showed no abnormalities.

DeGrom left his second straight start with an arm injury, coming out after three perfect innings against the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday night with right shoulder soreness. He had an MRI on Thursday at the Hospital for Special Surgery that was reviewed by Mets medical director David Altchek and Los Angeles Dodgers head team physician Dr. Neal ElAttrache.

“We had an MRI taken on him and ran it through two doctors just to have a second opinion, as well, and both doctors had the same prognosis from the imaging. So it just shows as a normal shoulder that a pitcher would have and there’s no concern,” Mets manager Luis Rojas said.

Rojas said deGrom played catch Thursday. Still, the NL East leaders aren’t yet ready to commit to him taking his next turn in the rotation.

“We’re just going to take it day by day,” Rojas said. “We’re not thinking of an IL stint or to do anything.”

DeGrom left his June 11 outing against San Diego after six innings because of flexor tendinitis in his right arm. The two-time NL Cy Young Award skipped an outing between April 28 and May 9 due to discomfort in his right lat muscle, then did not pitch against until May 25 while spending time on the injured list with what the Mets said was tightness in his right side.

New York’s medical staff concluded the injuries are not related.

“This is not the same thing. It’s been three different things,” Rojas said. “They’re not connected. One thing is not leading to the other.”

DeGrom, a right-hander who turns 33 on Saturday, is 6-2 with a 0.54 ERA and 111 strikeouts and eight walks in 67 innings.

Rojas said there is a chance batting is causing the issues for deGrom, who hits left-handed.

“There’s different things that you can think where this might happen. It could be during his at-bat. It could be maybe one pitch that he felt something,” Rojas said. “It could be anywhere. And I think we had the same conversation when he had the lat that was eventually his lower back, as well, that it could have been in any one of his at-bats, in one of the swings.”

A good hitter for a pitcher, deGrom is batting .423 with six RBIs this season. Rojas said the Mets have told some pitchers in the past not to swing to prevent injuries.

“They just statue there for a couple of at-bats because we only wanted them pitching, right, and we didn’t want anything like that to compromise their health,” he said.

Rojas said deGrom “is less open this time” to going to the IL now than he was last month.

“He felt that his mechanics were out of whack and he didn’t want to test that lat, lower back area and see how he was landing,” Rojas said. “We did the IL stint because he wanted to go through his in-between start routine at least twice just to check on those mechanics and compare them to how he’s done them in the past.”

DeGrom is averaging a 99.2 mph with his fastball, the highest among qualified pitchers and well ahead of Miami’s Sandy Alcantara, who is second at 97.8 mph.

DeGrom has thrown 65 pitches of 100 mph in first innings since the start of the 2020 season, according to MLB Statcast. Miami’s Sixto Sanchez is second with eight.

Rojas said the pain could be correlated to the high velocity.

“There’s a lot of studying from a medical standpoint in this game about high velo, there’s a correlation there, high velo and some stress and soreness and high injury risk” Rojas said. “And our medical group here, they’ve done a lot of presentations in the past to us as a coaching staff and everyone else here, as well, I think. It could be.”

Yankees star Judge hits 61st home run, ties Maris’ AL record

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TORONTO — Aaron Judge tied Roger Maris’ American League record of 61 home runs in a season, hitting a tiebreaking, two-run drive for the New York Yankees in the seventh inning against the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday night.

The 30-year-old slugger drove a 94.5 mph belt-high sinker with a full-count from left-hander Tim Mayza over the left-field fence at Rogers Centre. The 117.4 mph drive took just 3.8 seconds to land 394 feet from the plate, and it put the Yankees ahead 5-3.

Judge watched the ball clank off the front of the stands, just below two fans who reached over a railing and tried for a catch. He pumped an arm just before reaching first and exchanged a slap with coach Travis Chapman.

The ball dropped into Toronto’s bullpen and was picked up by Blue Jays bullpen coach Matt Buschmann, who turned it over to the Yankees.

Judge’s mother and Roger Maris Jr. rose and hugged from front-row seats. He appeared to point toward them after rounding second base, then was congratulated by the entire Yankees team, who gave him hugs after he crossed the plate.

Judge moved past the 60 home runs Babe Ruth hit in 1927, which had stood as the major league mark until Maris broke it in 1961. All three stars reached those huge numbers playing for the Yankees.

Barry Bonds holds the big league record of 73 for the San Francisco Giants in 2001.

Judge had gone seven games without a home run – his longest drought this season was nine in mid-August. This was the Yankees’ 155th game of the season, leaving them seven more in the regular season.

The home run came in the fourth plate appearance of the night for Judge, ending a streak of 34 plate appearances without a home run.

Judge is hitting .313 with 130 RBIs, also the top totals in the AL. He has a chance to become the first AL Triple Crown winner since Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera in 2012.

Maris hit No. 61 for the Yankees on Oct. 1, 1961, against Boston Red Sox pitcher Tracy Stallard.

Maris’ mark has been exceeded six times, but all have been tainted by the stench of steroids. Mark McGwire hit 70 home runs for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1998 and 65 the following year, and Bonds topped him. Sammy Sosa had 66, 65 and 63 during a four-season span starting in 1998.

McGwire admitted using banned steroids, while Bonds and Sosa denied knowingly using performing-enhancing drugs. Major League Baseball started testing with penalties for PEDs in 2004, and some fans – perhaps many – until now have considered Maris the holder of the “clean” record.

Among the tallest batters in major league history, the 6-foot-7 Judge burst on the scene on Aug. 13, 2016, homering off the railing above Yankee Stadium’s center-field sports bar and into the netting above Monument Park. He followed Tyler Austin to the plate and they become the first teammates to homer in their first major league at-bats in the same game.

Judge hit 52 homers with 114 RBIs the following year and was a unanimous winner of the AL Rookie of the Year award. Injuries limited him during the following three seasons, and he rebounded to hit 39 homers with 98 RBIs in 2021.

As he approached his last season before free agent eligibility, Judge on opening day turned down the Yankees’ offer of an eight-year contract worth from $230.5 million to $234.5 million. The proposal included an average of $30.5 million annually from 2023-29, with his salary this year to be either the $17 million offered by the team in arbitration or the $21 million requested by the player.

An agreement was reached in June on a $19 million, one-year deal, and Judge heads into this offseason likely to get a contract from the Yankees or another team for $300 million or more, perhaps topping $400 million.

Judge hit six homers in April, 12 in May and 11 in June. He earned his fourth All-Star selection and entered the break with 33 homers. He had 13 homers in July and dropped to nine in August, when injuries left him less protected in the batting order and pitchers walked him 25 times.

He became just the fifth player to hold a share of the AL season record. Nap Lajoie hit 14 in the AL’s first season as a major league in 1901, and Philadelphia Athletics teammate Socks Seabold had 16 the next year, a mark that stood until Babe Ruth hit 29 in 1919. Ruth set the record four times in all, with 54 in 1920, 59 in 1921 and 60 in 1927, a mark that stood until Maris’ 61 in 1961.

Maris was at 35 in July 1961 during the first season each team’s schedule increased from 154 games to 162, and baseball Commissioner Ford Frick ruled if anyone topped Ruth in more than 154 games “there would have to be some distinctive mark in the record books to show that Babe Ruth’s record was set under a 154-game schedule.”

That “distinctive mark” became known as an “asterisk” and it remained until Sept. 4, 1991, when a committee on statistical accuracy chaired by Commissioner Fay Vincent voted unanimously to recognize Maris as the record holder.