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Mets plan Jacob deGrom return next week after latest rehab start

New York Mets Jacob deGrom pitcher throwing during spring training camp in Port St. Lucie, Florida

Port St. Lucie, Fl.: New York Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom throws during a spring training workout at Clover Park, in Port St. Lucie, Florida, on March 14, 2022. (Photo by Alejandra Villa Loarca/Newsday RM via Getty Images)

Newsday via Getty Images

NEW YORK -- Mets ace Jacob deGrom pitched four innings Wednesday for Triple-A Syracuse, finishing strong after a shaky start in what’s expected to be his last minor league rehab outing before rejoining New York’s rotation.

“The plan right now if everything progresses well is to pitch for us next time,” Mets manager Buck Showalter said. “But that could change by what we hear tomorrow or the next day.”

The two-time NL Cy Young Award winner would likely return to the Mets early next week in Washington. If he pitches Monday or Tuesday, he would be lined up on full rest to make a start in a potentially pivotal five-game series Aug. 4-7 at home against defending World Series champion Atlanta - although the NL East leaders have not committed to that timeline.

“We’ll see where we slot that out,” Showalter said.

New York entered Wednesday with a two-game edge in the division over the Braves.

Sidelined all season by a stress reaction in his right scapula, deGrom gave up four runs on a pair of homers and threw 41 of 67 pitches for strikes. He struck out six - twice fanning Kansas City All-Star catcher Salvador Perez - and walked three in a game that began at 12:05 p.m.

“It was good to see him get to almost 70 pitches. That was a good sign,” Showalter said. “We’ll get arms around it here in the next day or so, but we hope that his next outing’s with us. We’ll see.”

Last week, Showalter said if deGrom needed another rehab start after this one, then that’s what the team would do. He said deGrom is well aware of what it takes to be ready to pitch in the majors.

The 34-year-old right-hander hasn’t appeared in a big league game since July 7, 2021. He missed the second half of last season with right forearm tightness and a sprained elbow, then went down late in spring training this year with the scapula injury.

He’s made four minor league rehab starts totaling 12 2/3 innings, two at Class A St. Lucie and two with Syracuse. He’s allowed five runs - four earned - and seven hits with 21 strikeouts and four walks, hitting 100 mph on the radar gun even in his first outing.

He threw a 60-pitch simulated game in Florida during the All-Star break, then a side session Sunday at Citi Field in New York. The simulated game was pushed back two days after deGrom experienced minor shoulder soreness.

The only hits deGrom gave up Wednesday were a solo homer to Brewer Hicklen and a three-run drive to Drew Waters that sandwiched consecutive walks and two strikeouts in the second inning against the Omaha Storm Chasers. Then deGrom struck out Perez, who’s rehabbing a thumb injury, for the second time and retired his final seven batters.

“His arm felt really good,” Showalter said.

Perez is on an injury rehabilitation assignment at Triple-A Omaha.