PORT ST. LUCIE — Jacob deGrom slapped his glove in appreciation to acknowledge his Mets teammate for saving runs Tuesday afternoon.
It was the fourth inning of a Grapefruit League game against the Astros that nobody will ever remember, but deGrom the competitor was relieved Brandon Nimmo had reached above the fence in right-center to rob Alex Bregman of a possible homer.
“That would have tied up the game, and even though it’s the spring I don’t want to give up runs,” deGrom said on a day the Mets won, 8-3, at Clover Park.
DeGrom allowed his first run of the spring on a third-inning homer to Jeremy Pena but continued to bring the heat, with precise command. He struck out six and allowed two hits over four innings.
Overall, he threw 11 pitches that registered at least 100 mph on the stadium scoreboard. He topped out at 101 on a fastball to Bregman in the first inning. In that inning, eight of deGrom’s 11 fastballs reached 100 mph.
DeGrom’s next scheduled start is against the Nationals, whom he will also face in the April 1 opener. But deGrom plans to make that Grapefruit League start and may skip his final exhibition game (also against the Nationals) and instead face his own teammates in simulated action.
“You are out here trying to get your work in, so you don’t necessarily pitch the guys the same you are going to pitch them during the season,” deGrom said, when asked about facing the Nationals next. “The last inning today I threw some changeups in some situations I probably wouldn’t but just wanted to throw it. You go out there to work on things, you want to get outs for sure. That is just the competitive part of it, but you still get your work in.”
In that next start, on Sunday in West Palm Beach, deGrom will become the first Mets pitcher to take at-bats this spring as the team prepares for the looming possibility a universal DH won’t be approved.
“I guess I am excited to hit,” deGrom said. “Probably more excited if I had a little more practice with it, so I better get in the cage this week.”