Rangers' deGrom throws on mound, Scherzer nearing season debut

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Two-time Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom threw off a mound Monday for the first time since reconstructive right elbow surgery just over a year ago, while the next start for Max Scherzer could be his season debut for the Texas Rangers.

DeGrom threw 15 pitches, none of them breaking balls.

"I'm not sure of the timeline, but feeling really good," deGrom said. "Touched the mound for the first time today, so that went really well. So one day at a time. I got two more times this week. And then just keep moving forward from there."

DeGrom threw in the bullpen before the Rangers opened a homestand against the New York Mets, his former team, and two days before his 36th birthday. Texas signed deGrom to a $185 million, five-year deal as a free agent before the 2023 season.

The Mets are in effect paying most of Scherzer's salary after trading the three-time Cy Young Award winner to Texas at the deadline last summer.

Scherzer, who hasn't pitched for the reigning champion Rangers since last year's World Series, threw 4 2/3 innings in a rehab start for Triple-A Round Rock on Saturday night. Texas manager Bruce Bochy said before Monday's game that he expected Scherzer's next start to be in the big leagues, but he didn't say when.

"I'm ready to get back out there. ... I'm just trying to rejoin the rotation wherever they want to reinsert me," Scherzer said.

"Yeah, he came out of that well," Bochy said. "It's good to have him back. I know he's excited."

Texas has an day off Thursday after the Mets series, and Kansas City visits for three games this weekend.

This week is the second time Texas has played the Mets since acquiring both Cy Young winners. When the Rangers went to New York last August, that series fell between starts for Scherzer and deGrom was recovering from surgery.

Scherzer, who had back surgery in December, has made three rehab starts. The first was April 24, but the next was pushed back to June 9 because of right thumb soreness that team doctors later identified as a nerve issue extending to his right triceps.

Texas made the Scherzer deal last summer after the pitcher agreed to opt in on the final year of his contract for this season at $43.3 million. New York is paying $30.83 million of that to Texas in twice-monthly installments.

"I enjoy living here," Scherzer said. "And we got a ring, so it's been great."

Scherzer, who turns 40 on July 27, said he hopes to pitch past this season. He knows that could depend on whether he has any more nerve issues.

"I didn't come into this year thinking this is my last year," he said. "Definitely want to pitch next year. We'll see."

DeGrom spent his first nine major league seasons with the Mets but threw only 156 1/3 innings over 26 starts his last two years in New York. He missed the final three months of 2021 with right forearm tightness and a sprained elbow, then didn't make his first big league start in 2022 until Aug. 2 after being shut down late in spring training because of a stress reaction in his right scapula.

Texas won all six games started by deGrom (2-0, 2.67 ERA) last season before he got hurt. He last pitched in a game on April 28, 2023, against the New York Yankees when he exited early because of injury concerns for the second time in three starts. The four-time All-Star had surgery on June 12 last year.

"I definitely want to be out there. That's the hardest thing, you want to be out there competing," said deGrom, who had Tommy John surgery while still in the low minors after the Mets drafted him in 2010. "I've been through this before, so I knew kind what to expect. I knew it was a long road. So the main thing was just try to be smart, not do too much. And we've been sticking to the program. Everything's felt good along the way, so try to keep it that way."