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Mets expect RHP Kodai Senga to start season on IL because of right shoulder strain

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — The New York Mets expect right-hander Kodai Senga to begin the season on the injured list after having to shut him down in spring training because of a shoulder strain.

Mets president of baseball operations David Stearns said Thursday that an MRI was done after Senga twice expressed having shoulder fatigue after throwing sessions in camp. Stearns described the strain in the back of his right shoulder as moderate.

“We’re going to shut him down until these symptoms subside and strength returns to his normal levels,” Stearns said. “Once that happens, we can begin to ramp him up and then go through his normal spring training progression.”

Stearns said it was unclear how long Senga will be sidelined, and when he might be able to make his season debut.

The 31-year-old Senga, going into the second season of a $75 million, five-year contract with the Mets after 11 seasons pitching in Japan, said he regrets that he won’t be ready for the start of the season. He said he just has to be positive and look forward to getting back with the team.

“Out of experience, not being at a 100% definitely puts a hamper on my performance,” Senga said through a translator. “If I was asked can I throw 96, 97, 98 mph? Yeah, I can throw 96, 97, 98. But the game isn’t about throwing fast. It’s about getting hitters out and I feel like at this point I am not going to be able to perform at the highest level, so giving it a bit of time is the right move.”

Senga went 12-7 with a 2.98 ERA in 29 starts last year in his MLB rookie season. He finished second in the voting for National League rookie of the year, and seventh for the NL Cy Young Award.

The Mets are looking to Senga to help anchor their rotation. They signed right-hander Luis Severino and left-hander Sean Manaea in the offseason, and acquired right-hander Adrian Houser in a December trade with Milwaukee.