Mets’ Jacob deGrom goes 4 innings at Triple-A, pennant race next?

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NEW YORK — Mets ace Jacob deGrom pitched four innings Wednesday for Triple-A Syracuse, finishing strong after a shaky start in what could be his last minor league rehab outing before rejoining New York’s rotation.

Sidelined all season by a stress reaction in his right scapula, deGrom gave up four runs on a pair of homers and threw 41 of 67 pitches for strikes. He struck out six and walked three in a game that began at 12:05 p.m.

The two-time NL Cy Young Award winner could return to the Mets early next week in Washington. If he pitches Monday or Tuesday, he would be lined up on full rest to make a start in a potentially pivotal five-game series Aug. 4-7 at home against defending World Series champion Atlanta.

New York entered Wednesday with a two-game lead in the NL East over the Braves.

However, the Mets have not committed to that timeline – and manager Buck Showalter said if deGrom needs another rehab start after this one, then that’s what the team will do. He said deGrom is well aware of what it takes to be ready to pitch in the majors.

The 34-year-old right-hander hasn’t appeared in a big league game since July 7, 2021. He missed the second half of last season with right forearm tightness and a sprained elbow, then went down late in spring training this year with the scapula injury.

He’s made four minor league rehab starts totaling 12 2/3 innings, two at Class A St. Lucie and two with Syracuse. He’s allowed five runs – four earned – and seven hits with 21 strikeouts and four walks, hitting 100 mph on the radar gun even in his first outing.

He threw a 60-pitch simulated game in Florida during the All-Star break, then a side session Sunday at Citi Field in New York. The simulated game was pushed back two days after deGrom experienced minor shoulder soreness.

The only hits deGrom gave up Wednesday were a solo homer to Brewer Hicklen and a three-run drive to Drew Waters that sandwiched consecutive walks and two strikeouts in the second inning against the Omaha Storm Chasers. Then deGrom struck out Kansas City Royals All-Star catcher Salvador Perez for the second time and retired his final seven batters.

Perez is on an injury rehabilitation assignment at Triple-A Omaha.

Phillies’ Bryce Harper to miss start of season after elbow surgery

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PHILADELPHIA – Phillies slugger Bryce Harper will miss the start of the 2023 season after he had reconstructive right elbow surgery.

The operation was performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles.

Harper is expected to return to Philadelphia’s lineup as the designated hitter by the All-Star break. He could be back in right field by the end of the season, according to the team.

The 30-year-old Harper suffered a small ulnar collateral ligament tear in his elbow in April. He last played right field at Miami on April 16. He had a platelet-rich plasma injection in May and shifted to designated hitter.

Harper met Nov. 14 with ElAttrache, who determined the tear did not heal on its own, necessitating surgery.

Even with the elbow injury, Harper led the Phillies to their first World Series since 2009, where they lost in six games to Houston. He hit .349 with six homers and 13 RBIs in 17 postseason games.

In late June, Harper suffered a broken thumb when he was hit by a pitch and was sidelined for two months. The two-time NL MVP still hit .286 with 18 homers and 65 RBIs for the season.

Harper left Washington and signed a 13-year, $330 million contract with the Phillies in 2019. A seven-time All-Star, Harper has 285 career home runs.

With Harper out, the Phillies could use Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber at designated hitter. J.T. Realmuto also could serve as the DH when he needs a break from his catching duties.