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Travis Jankowski underwent surgery Friday on a 4th metacarpal fracture on his left hand, the Mets announced.
He fractured his ring finger during a diving catch in left field against the Giants on Wednesday. He is on the 10-day injured list, retroactive to May 26, but the timeline for this type of injury is generally 6-8 weeks, the Mets said. In addition to Jankowski’s IL placement, the Mets made a series of other roster moves.
Left-hander Thomas Szapucki was optioned to Triple-A Syracuse. Right-handers Yoan Lopez and Stephen Nogosek were recalled from Syracuse. Lopez was suspended by MLB for three games for what the league decided were intentional pitches thrown at Kyle Schwarber on May 1. But none of Lopez’s pitches actually hit Schwarber. He appealed his suspension and got it knocked down to one game, which he served on Friday against the Phillies.
Jankowski, a journeyman after playing five seasons with the Padres from 2015-19, is a key depth outfielder for the Mets. Mets GM Billy Eppler picked him up as a free agent in March, one week into spring training. Without him, the club will rely heavily on their big-league outfield depth, like Jeff McNeil, as well as look within for possible promotions.
“He’ll be back, but it’s a loss of a very useful player for us,” Mets manager Buck Showalter said of Jankowski. “Don’t want to lessen it from our standpoint. I know there’s a lot of other teams that don’t really care. Travis did a lot of things for us.”
The Mets are likely to call up outfielder Nick Plummer from Triple-A Syracuse. Plummer was not in Syracuse’s lineup on Friday, and Showalter mentioned him multiple times when asked about his outfield depth. Plummer played in two games for the Mets last month against the Diamondbacks.
Showalter said it’s tough to internally replace Jankowski, who has served as a left fielder, center fielder, right fielder, and key pinch-runner for the Mets this season. Thanks to his speed on the basepaths, Showalter would typically go to Jankowski as a late-game substitution, due to both his wheels and his defensive skillet in the outfield. He hit .209/.292/.209 with three stolen bases, five walks, and 11 runs scored across 33 games.
Jankowski also unintentionally endeared himself to his teammates and the Mets fan base when he said jokingly last month that no one is going to buy his jersey, mocking himself for his bench role on the team. Eduardo Escobar then ordered dozens of white shirseys with Jankowski’s name and No. 16 on the backs. Mets players wore the Jankowski shirseys, and still do, during pregame workouts. Jankowski said that was certainly not his intention when he poked fun at himself, and he was both surprised and appreciative of his teammates’ response.
“You’ll see some things to cover the loss of Travis,” Showalter said. “I’m always looking from within. Billy’s got a wide range of eye sight and I’m just trying to stay focused on these guys. I feel good where we are with that, but obviously not to the complete skill set that Travis has.”
Tylor Megill (right biceps tendinitis) is on his way back from the IL after he completed another key item on his rehab checklist.
Megill got back on the mound and threw a bullpen on Thursday, which was his first time throwing off the mound since he landed on the IL on May 15. First, the Mets will make sure Megill’s arm still feels good following his bullpen session. Then, his next step will be live batting practice, followed by one or two minor-league rehab outings.
“It went well,” Showalter said. “We have kind of mapped it out in a perfect world where he would rejoin us. But yesterday was a good step for him.”
Megill’s positive step forward also featured a tiring schedule for his pitching coach. Jeremy Hefner and the Mets touched down in New York late Wednesday night/early Thursday morning following their flight from San Francisco. Hefner went home and slept for a few hours, then came to Citi Field to watch Megill throw his bullpen before driving back home and getting some more shut eye.
UPDATE ON JAKE
Jacob deGrom once again threw on flat ground Friday at Citi Field. He has received permissioned from the Mets medical team and coaches to increase his velocity and distance as he throws, which has put him around 90-105 feet.
DeGrom is not expected to throw a bullpen this weekend, or at any point during the Mets’ six-game homestand against the Phillies and Nationals. But he will join the Mets on their upcoming two-week road trip against the Dodgers, Padres and Angels next week when they return to the west coast. It is likely that deGrom will ramp up to his next step, getting back on the mound and throwing a bullpen for the first time since he was injured in spring training nearly two months ago, during the team’s road trip that begins on June 2.
“He’s very upbeat that the club has been competitive while he isn’t here,” Showalter said of deGrom, who did not speak to reporters on Friday. “He’s looking forward to coming back and making a contribution in a time of – well, always in need of Jake. It’s uplifting in a lot of ways to see him in a locker room with everybody.”