Jacob deGrom

Jacob deGrom remains optimistic that he’ll be able to start the Mets’ season opener next Friday against the Braves. Seth Wenig/Associated Press

NEW YORK — Jacob deGrom still plans to pitch on Opening Day, although New York Mets Manager Luis Rojas didn’t sound so sure that will happen.

The two-time Cy Young Award winner said he felt good Thursday, two days after leaving an intrasquad game early because of back tightness. A precautionary MRI came back clean, and deGrom thinks he simply might have “slept wrong.”

“Having everything checked out and checking all those boxes definitely makes me feel better about this situation,” he said.

“I think it was just kind of a random thing as far as, woke up a little stiff. … These past few days I’ve felt good.”

He hopes to throw Friday and still believes he can get another tuneup of 60-65 pitches – perhaps in Sunday’s exhibition game against the Yankees – before starting the season opener July 24 versus Atlanta. The right-hander said he might only be able to throw about 85 pitches on Opening Day rather than the 100 or so he was targeting, but his goal remains to take the ball.

Rojas, however, said the team is taking a day-to-day approach as deGrom receives treatment.


“See how he feels tomorrow,” Rojas said. “We have to get through this couple of days at least.”

The Mets already are without No. 2 starter Noah Syndergaard. He had Tommy John surgery and will miss the entire season.

BLUE JAYS: The team has been given clearance by Ontario and Toronto to play regular-season games in Rogers Centre amid the coronavirus pandemic and await approval from Canada’s federal government.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford said permission had been given by the chief medical officer in Toronto, and his provincial government discussed the matter with the mayor, the chief medical officer of Canada and Canada’s deputy prime minister, as well as Ontario’s top medical official.

“Yes, I look forward to seeing them play even if it’s an empty stadium,” Ford said. “They have great protocols, great guidelines for the players to follow.”

Toronto Mayor John Tory said he urged the federal and provincial governments to approve MLB plan.


“This is one of the most extensive protocols I’ve ever seen to keep people safe in the city of Toronto,” Tory said.

“They are going to actually sacrifice a lot by having themselves confined, largely when they are not out of town, to the hotel premises.”

Any exemption requires approval from the federal government, which did not immediately respond to messages.

Blue Jays spokesperson Rich Griffin said the team had not yet received an update. The Blue Jays are scheduled to start July 24 at Tampa Bay and play their home opener five days later against Washington.

NATIONALS: Juan Soto and Howie Kendrick finally played in an intrasquad scrimmage Thursday night after missing nearly two weeks of workouts.

While the Nationals never announced why the key players have been absent, there is a city rule mandating that anyone coming into contact with someone who had the coronavirus needed to self-quarantine for 14 days.


Starting center fielder Victor Robles is still not with the team.

WHITE SOX: Star third baseman Yoán Moncada has rejoined the team after missing the start of summer camp.

Moncada was placed on the 10-day injured list last week because of an unspecified ailment.

RANGERS: Reliever Brett Martin has been placed on the injured list because of his positive test for the coronavirus before the start of their summer camp.

Martin, already at higher risk for COVID-19 because he has Type 1 diabetes, had a positive test during intake testing two weeks ago. He experienced mild symptoms, including congestion and fatigue.

Martin won’t count toward the team’s 40-man roster while on the IL. The Rangers are at 38 players.


MARINERS: Prospect Julio Rodriguez suffered a hairline fracture of his left wrist during a drill, Manager Scott Servais said.

Rodriguez, 19, was going to be on Seattle’s taxi squad but is considered one of the top prospects in the organization and has been rated among the top 20 in all of baseball heading into the season.

PHILLIES: Tony Taylor, a former All-Star infielder and coach, died Thursday. He was 84.

The Phillies said in a statement that Taylor died from complications of a stroke suffered in 2019.

Taylor played 19 seasons, including 15 with the Phillies. He also played for the Chicago Cubs and Detroit Tigers.

CUBS: Kyle Hendricks has been selected by Manager David Ross to start on Opening Day, getting the nod over Yu Darvish


Chicago begins the season July 24 against the Milwaukee Brewers. Ross said Darvish will start the second game, but he did not reveal how the rest of his rotation will line up.

BIG LEAGUE players will still hear the roar of the crowd even though the stands will be empty when the baseball season opens next week.

Taking a cue from two European soccer leagues, Major League Baseball will play crowd noise from its official video game through ballpark sound systems during games.

Stadium sound engineers will have access to around 75 different effects and reactions, according to MLB, which has provided teams with crowd sounds captured from “MLB The Show.”

YANKEES: Masahiro Tanaka threw a 30-pitch bullpen session in his first mound appearance since he was struck by a line drive off the bat of New York Yankees teammate Giancarlo Stanton on July 4. The 31-year-old right-hander remains uncertain for his first turn through the rotation.

“Threw all his pitches with really good intensity,” Yankees Manager Aaron Boone said. “I was really encouraged by what I saw today.”

New pitching coach Matt Blake said Tanaka reached 88-91 mph and threw all his pitches. Tanaka is slated for another bullpen session Sunday, then is to face batters early next week.

Gerrit Cole is scheduled to start the Yankees’ opener at Washington on July 23, followed by left-hander James Paxton in the second game two days later.

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