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Mets lefty Vargas could miss 6 weeks with injured right hand
By BILL WHITEHEAD
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (AP) Jason Vargas wants to make his regular-season debut with the New York Mets as soon as possible - even if takes more than a month past opening day.
The lefty could miss up to six weeks after he has surgery Tuesday for a broken right hand, an injury incurred last week when he was hit by a line drive during a minor league game.
Vargas met with a hand specialist over the weekend to talk about the test results. He then opted to have the operation.
"I don't know if I was surprised," Vargas said. "It kind of reinforced what some of the CT scans and how they were read the first time. Getting the word from the specialist is kind of the defining fact on what needed to be done. This is the fastest way to get better."
Vargas threw a bullpen session Monday morning, but it wasn't without difficulty.
The 2017 All-Star had to loosen the laces on his glove to get his right hand inside the mitt, then tightened the laces to keep his pitching balance the same. And he didn't take a return throw from his catcher.
"It's all going to depend on how things go post-op, but the word is I should get back to throwing in about five days after surgery. It's definitely a positive that I won't have to be shut down and have to rebuild a throwing program," Vargas said.
"Hopefully we don't lose too much because of how fast we're able to get back into throwing," he said.
The 35-year-old Vargas tied for the major league lead with 18 wins last season for Kansas City. He joined the Mets last month, signing a two-year contract for $16 million with an option for a third year.
Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said at the time he had his eye on Vargas from the start of free agency, saying he liked the durability the pitcher displayed by working nearly 180 innings in 32 starts last year in his first full season back from Tommy John surgery in 2015.
Vargas has played in the American League since making two starts for the Mets in 2007. Being back in the National League means he has to bat, which would be affected by his injured hand.
"Regardless if I would have fixed it or not, I wouldn't have been able to do the things you have to do at the plate, but being my glove hand, hopefully we can get to moving a little bit quicker and know that we're not going to have any issues when I go to catch a ball when I have an impact on it," said Vargas, who held his injured hand in front of his chest while speaking to the media.
The Mets open at home on March 29 against St. Louis. They won't need a fifth starter to follow opening day starter Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey and likely Steven Matz until the middle of next month. Zack Wheeler is in position to be part of the rotation, too.
The Mets play games on 10 consecutive days beginning April 13 when they host the Milwaukee Brewers, bringing the fifth starter into play after two prior weeks with off days.
NOTES: Star OF Yoenis Cespedes went 1 for 3 against Houston starter Justin Verlander and played six innings in the field. Cespedes had a cortisone shot last week for an injured right wrist. ... Wheeler tossed a simulated inning against Dominic Smith and Gavin Cecchini in the morning. The right-hander will start in place of Vargas when the Mets host Washington on Thursday. ... DeGrom will pitch a simulated game on Wednesday and close spring training in Monday's intrasquad game against Triple-A affiliate Las Vegas.
Updated March 19, 2018
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