Jacob deGrom’s return to the AL West-leading Texas Rangers has been delayed until at least late June after the two-time National League Cy Young Award winner was transferred to the 60-day injured list on Monday.
DeGrom has not pitched since April 28, when he retired early for the second time in three starts due to injury concerns. He was placed on the 15-day IL the next day after an MRI showed inflammation in his right elbow.
General manager Chris Young said deGrom “might not have improved as quickly as we hoped” after five bullpen sessions since going on the IL. Another MRI and additional tests are now scheduled for the 34-year-old right-hander whom the Rangers signed to a five-year, $185 million contract last December.
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Jacob deGrom #48 of the Texas Rangers pitches against the New York Yankees during the fourth inning at Globe Life Field on April 28, 2023 in Arlington, Texas. (Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)
Due to the switch to the 60-day IL, it cannot be activated until June 28 at the earliest.
“We don’t see anything as an opportunity for that,” Young said. “We want to make sure we proceed with caution.”
DeGrom was back with the team on Monday after heading home to Florida for the birth of his third child. He flew there after a bullpen session Wednesday in Detroit, which was his fifth since starting at the IL.
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Young said deGrom had some soreness during those sessions.
“There have been good days and bad days, as with most recovery efforts,” Young said. “I’m not exactly sure how he felt in the bullpen (in Detroit). I heard the ball came out fine. Every hour to see how he was doing.”
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Texas Rangers starting pitcher Jacob deGrom shakes hands with manager Bruce Bochy, right, after working against the Kansas City Royals during the seventh inning of a baseball game on Tuesday, April 11, 2023 in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
The Rangers signed deGrom in free agency after he played his first nine big league seasons with the Mets. He was limited by injury to 156 1/3 innings over 26 starts of his final two years in New York.
He had a career-low 1.08 ERA over 92 innings during the 2021 season before missing the final three months with right forearm tightness and a sprained elbow. He only made his first big league start last year on August 2 after being shut down late in spring training due to a stress reaction in his right shoulder blade.
Texas has won all six games started by deGrom (2-0), but the right-hander has thrown only 30 1/3 innings. He has a 2.67 ERA with 45 strikeouts and four walks. He pitched 3 2/3 scoreless innings against the New York Yankees on April 28 before leaving that game due to discomfort in his arm.
“I believe he’s the best in the world when he pitches. … It’s just captivating when he’s on the mound,” said Young. “But the decision to bring him here was a five-year decision, and we’re taking that into account in terms of how we move forward here.”
Texas Rangers starting pitcher Jacob deGrom delivers a pitch to the Oakland Athletics during the first inning of a baseball game, Sunday, April 23, 2023, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
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DeGrom was not in the clubhouse for the series opener against St. Louis before the Rangers announced the change in his status.
“He’s so happy for the team and the way we played. But he wants to be a part of it. He wants to be there,” said Young, a former big league pitcher. “I’ve been in his shoes, so I understand how things are. And you want to push to be there, but you don’t want to push at the risk of making things worse or getting setbacks or something like that.”
Transferring deGrom to the 60-Day IL opened a spot on the Rangers’ 40-man roster to activate Spencer Howard from the 60-Day IL. Howard missed the first 58 games due to a right crossbar strain.