With a steady rain falling at Citi Field Thursday afternoon, and a gnarly forecast projected for the rest of the night, Terry Collins played it safe.
The Mets pushed back Jacob deGrom’s start from Thursday to Friday, citing concerns over the weather. Collins announced the decision at his pregame press conference before the Mets’ 4-3 loss to the Padres.
DeGrom will now start the series opener at the Pirates in Pittsburgh. Zack Wheeler will pitch Saturday, and Matt Harvey will make his scheduled start in Sunday’s series finale.
“We do not want to lose him tonight if the game starts and he goes two and we got to shut him down due to weather,” said Collins, who was adamant the move had nothing to do with deGrom’s health.
Righthander Rafael Montero started in deGrom’s place Thursday night and struggled in three innings. The 26-year-old Dominican allowed three runs and threw a staggering 87 pitches, including 45 in the first inning. Montero now owns an 8.24 ERA in 2017.
“There are certain expectations when you’re in a big-league uniform,” Collins said. “And one is you’ve got to command your pitches.”
DeGrom learned of the decision when he got to the ballpark and understood the logic. At this stage, with the bullpen in disarray, the Mets can’t afford to waste a start from their best pitcher.
“One thing we didn’t want to have to do is get him warmed up, sit him down, wait, have him pitch two innings, get to 30 pitches and then have to shut him down,” Collins said.
Collins and the Mets were already in search of a spot starter for Saturday after Tommy Milone — the scheduled starter — landed on the 10-day disabled list Wednesday with a sprained left knee.
Josh Smoker, who allowed the game-winning home run to Hunter Renfroe in the eighth inning of Wednesday’s 6-5 loss to San Diego, was the frontrunner to start Saturday’s contest in Pittsburgh before the deGrom development.
For the second time in as many days, the Mets activated a key position player off the 10-day disabled list, this time welcoming shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera back to the 25-man roster. The Mets activated Travis d’Arnaud on Wednesday.
Cabrera played in both seven-inning legs of a doubleheader for Double-A Binghamton Wednesday. He went 2-for-5 with two singles in the two rehab contests, playing all 14 innings at shortstop. Cabrera was not in the lineup Thursday night but pinch hit in the eighth, grounding into a double play.
“I’m pretty close to 100 percent,” Cabrera said. “I feel normal.”
The Mets optioned catcher Kevin Plawecki to Triple-A Las Vegas in a corresponding move. D’Arnaud started behind the plate Thursday after coming off the bench Wednesday and went hitless in four plate appearances.
STICK TO THE SCRIPT
A day after a noticeably annoyed Collins said he’s “not at liberty to discuss” injury situations, the Mets manager added some context to his statements.
“I get in trouble because I try to be as honest as I can with you guys and give you an honest look at things, and then if it doesn’t happen, we look like an idiot when we’re not, because there’s no guarantees,” Collins said Thursday. “And so we’re going to try to stay away from trying to predict anything expect the fact that, hey look, there’s a process involved of getting these injured players back on the field, and it changes every day.”
Jay Bruce (back tightness) was back in the Mets lineup Thursday night after missing Wednesday’s loss.
Bruce said he was “all good” in the clubhouse before the game.hit third, started in right field and went 1-for-5 with a single.