CHICAGO — Kodai Senga is still on a schedule that allows for extra rest. The Mets are pretty content to keep him on one, at least for this early part of his rookie season.
Senga will pitch the second game of a three-game set against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on Wednesday. Seven days in between starts isn’t typical for pitchers in the Major Leagues but it’s typical for pitchers in Japan, and the Mets have been trying to mimic the schedule he was on throughout his 11 years in the Nippon Professional League. It doesn’t sound like this is going to change anytime soon.
“We don’t know yet. We’ll see how it goes. I don’t know,” manager Buck Showalter said Tuesday at Wrigley Field. “Maybe it doesn’t happen at all. We’ll see how he responds. I hope that there is that possibility and we’re leaving that open, but right now he’s doing well with the way his rest is coming up. We’ll continue down that path and the medical people and [pitching coach Jeremy Hefner] will let me know when if and when they think he’s ready.”
Finding a routine has been tough for Senga in his first season in North America. Between rainouts, doubleheaders and travel days, there aren’t any starters in the Mets’ rotation who have been able to stick to a five-day week. Senga would like to figure a routine out at some point soon, even if that means that has him working on a six or seven-day schedule.
“I think my routine is still a work in progress,” Senga said through a translator. “I think between the weather and people going down with injuries, things have changed. I just know that I need to be flexible and be able to pitch on whatever day I am given.”
However, he made it clear that he isn’t asking for the extra days of rest and is capable of pitching on a normal schedule if needed.
“I’ve always wanted to come to the States to play and that comes with it — pitching every fifth day,” Senga said. “I just need to pitch when I’m told to pitch.”
The 30-year-old righty was slotted to start Tuesday in the series opener, but that seems to have been some sort of miscommunication or mistake on the MLB.com schedule. Right-hander Tylor Megill is taking the ball Tuesday and Senga will go Wednesday in the second game, and the Mets told him last week that his next start would come in the middle game.
Senga knew well before he got to Chicago that he would pitch Wednesday and geared his workweek toward pitching in that specific game.
“I knew it was going to be tomorrow all along,” Senga said. “I know they switched it up, but I think they have their own thoughts and their own plan towards that, but we knew this.”
Max Scherzer will open the Mets’ series in Denver on Friday night against the Colorado Rockies. Justin Verlander will pitch Saturday with an extra day of rest. Both right-handers pitched Sunday in the Mets’ doubleheader sweep of the Cleveland Guardians, but Scherzer threw only six innings and Verlander threw eight, which is why the team chose to give Verlander that sixth day.
“Max had a good workday today and threw less pitches and less innings the last time out,” Showalter said. “I would have been fine with either of one of them.”
Outfielder Tim Locastro has elected to have surgery on the ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb. Locastro injured the thumb on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Syracuse. He was originally placed on the injured list April 17 with back spasms.
The Mets didn’t immediately know the timeline for the injury.