Kodai Senga scratched due to finger discomfort

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — For a short time, Met’s camp was idyllic. With minor exceptions, all 62 players were healthy. Nothing significant went wrong.

And while things could still turn in the Mets’ favor, some worrying cracks have emerged on the team’s pitching staff over the past week. First it was José Quintana, who left an outing early on March 5 and still hasn’t received any definite answers as to the nature of his ailment. Five days later, the Mets discovered that assistant Brooks Raley had injured his left hamstring at the World Baseball Classic in Phoenix.

Finally, on Saturday morning, the Mets scraped Kodai Senga from the start against the Nats with a tendinitis at the base of his right index finger. Right now, the Mets are calling it a commonplace problem for Senga, though they haven’t specified when he might serve again.

“I’ve been through this with other players getting used to a new baseball,” said general manager Billy Eppler, referring to Japanese pitchers who weren’t used to the larger, smoother American balls. “They squeeze it very tight. And if you often squeeze a baseball very hard, you’re not used to squeezing it that hard with that many reps.”

Senga, who recently signed a five-year, $75 million contract after playing 11 seasons in Nippon Professional Baseball, has only appeared in one Grapefruit League game to date. The team took him to spring shows because they wanted Senga to have extra time to get used to American baseballs and hills, and Senga skipped the WBC for the same reason. His second spring assignment was scheduled for Saturday against Washington.

“He probably would have served during the season,” said manager Buck Showalter. “But he doesn’t have to.”

Despite the setbacks, Showalter said there’s still enough time for Senga and Raley, who suffered from a minor left hamstring strain in preparation for the WBC opener, to be ready for opening day. Raley stayed in Arizona to attend the WBC inaugural ceremonies and plans to be back at Mets camp by Tuesday. The team will be making revised plans for the left-hander once they see him in person. The biggest downside to the whole situation, Showalter said, is that “now there’s not that buffer” in case something else should happen.

Of greater concern is Quintana, whose status has grown grim since the Mets diagnosed him with a stress fracture in the fifth rib on his left side. Quintana flew to New York Monday for more tests, but the team is still waiting for several doctors to evaluate the results. It already seemed foreseeable that Quintana would miss the start of the season due to his injury. The delay in testing has since fueled speculation that something even more serious could be at play.

When asked if there’s reason to believe Quintana’s diagnosis has changed, Eppler replied, “I’ll just wait for the information to come out.”

The good news for the Mets is that they’ve been preparing for it all winter. Should Quintana or even Senga miss the start of the season, the club have a pair of substitutes in David Peterson and Tylor Megill, who together started 28 games last season. Peterson suffered his own injury scare late last week when he left a game after taking a comebacker off the left foot. But tests for broken bones came back negative, and Peterson has thrown off a hill several times since then without issue. He expects to return to Grapefruit League action in the coming days.

Other depth options include Joey Lucchesi, Elieser Hernández and José Butto. And in the bullpen, the Mets are well stocked with alternates — albeit not from the left flank.

It’s not a perfect situation for the Mets, who had a happy, healthy camp until last weekend. But it’s also not a worst-case scenario. For now, the Mets are on hold as they hope for a speedy recovery from several key players.


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