Kodai Senga scratched due to finger discomfort

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — For a brief period, camp for the Mets was bucolic. With few exceptions, all 62 players were healthy. Nothing notable went wrong.

And while things could still turn back in the Mets’ favor, worrying cracks have appeared in the team’s pitching staff over the past week. First it was José Quintana, who left a March 5 outing prematurely and has still not received firm answers as to the nature of his discomfort. Five days later, the Mets discovered reliever Brooks Raley injured his left hamstring during the World Baseball Classic in Phoenix.

Finally, on Saturday morning, the Mets scratched Kodai Senga early on against the Nats with what turned out to be tendonitis at the base of his right index finger. For now, the Mets are calling it a daily problem for Senga, though they haven’t determined when he might pitch again.

“I’ve been through that with other players adjusting to new baseball,” general manager Billy Eppler said, referring to Japanese pitchers unaccustomed to bigger, smoother American balls. “They squeeze it really hard. And if you squeeze a baseball really hard, a lot of times you’re not used to squeezing it that much with that many reps.”

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

“Probably during the season he would have pitched,” manager Buck Showalter said. “But he doesn’t need it.”

Despite the setbacks, Showalter said, there is still enough time for Senga and Raley, who suffered a slight left hamstring strain in the build-up to the WBC opener, to be ready for opening day. . Raley stayed in Arizona to participate in the WBC’s opening night festivities, intending to be back at Mets camp by Tuesday. The team will make revised plans for the lefty once they see him in person. The biggest downside to the whole situation, Showalter said, is that “there’s no buffer now” if anything else happens.

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

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

The good news for the Mets is that they spent all winter preparing. Should Quintana or even Senga miss the start of the season, the club have a pair of ready-to-use replacements in David Peterson and Tylor Megill, who started a combined 28 games last season. Peterson suffered his own injury scare late last week, when he left a game after pulling off a return to his left foot. But tests for broken bones came back negative, and Peterson has since thrown from a mound several times 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 alternatives — just not on the left side.

It’s not a perfect situation for the Mets, who enjoyed a happy and healthy camp until last weekend. But that’s not the worst case either. For now, the Mets are in wait-and-see mode as they hope for a quick recovery for several key players.

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