PORT ST. LUCIE – Carlos Carrasco is scheduled to resume throwing Sunday, but whether he can still build up quickly enough to begin the season with the Mets is another matter.
That uncertainty has team officials paying extra attention to the competition for the rotation’s fifth spot, which also might be an audition for the sixth starter who could fill in for Carrasco if needed.
Jordan Yamamoto, part of that rotation depth, did nothing to hurt his chances Saturday night, when he allowed one run on two hits over 3 1/3 innings against the Nationals in West Palm Beach, Fla. In three starts this spring, Yamamoto has pitched to a 1.08 ERA.
“I’m still out there to prove I belong in the big leagues, that I don’t want to go anyplace else,” said Yamamoto, who spent most of last season in the Marlins’ alternate site camp. “I’ve had that little bit of time of going up and down and I do not like that. You get a taste of it, and that’s where you want to stay. I want to stay in the big leagues.”
Carrasco incurred elbow soreness after pitching live batting practice early last week and was told to stop throwing for a few days. If Carrasco comes through playing catch Sunday without discomfort, he potentially could throw live batting practice later in the week. But then the calendar would come into play, with Carrasco needing to build pitch count in exhibition games before taking the mound in the regular season.
Yamamoto, David Peterson and Joey Lucchesi are the primary candidates for the fifth spot in the rotation and to replace Carrasco if needed.
Rojas cited Yamamoto’s mix of pitches as something team officials like, but also said the right-hander needs to be judicious in his use of that arsenal.
“There’s a lot of pitches that he has to get batters out,” Rojas said. “One of the things that hurt him in the past was the overuse or the overpitching, using everything out there. Just stick to his strength and have some of those pitches to have in the hitters’ head. But I think that is something he and the pitching coach have talked about and they are looking at closely. He has looked good so far. I like his rhythm, I like his poise, I like his command.”
Tomas Nido, who was scratched from Friday’s lineup with a bruised left foot, likely will play Sunday, according to Rojas, but won’t start behind the plate. Nido will likely be ready for catching duty Tuesday, following a team off day.
Jose Martinez underwent surgery Friday to repair the torn meniscus in his left knee. The first baseman/outfielder, who was competing for a spot off the bench, is expected to miss about four months.