New Met Jerad Eickhoff off to rocky start for rotation spot



JUPITER, Fla. — Jerad Eickhoff won’t discount the idea his past success pitching against the Mets led to his minor league deal with the organization this offseason.

In 10 career appearances against the Mets — all with the Phillies — the right-hander has pitched to a 2.41 ERA.

“I believe it probably had something to do with it,” Eickhoff said Wednesday after allowing four earned runs over two innings in the Mets’ 14-9 exhibition loss to the Cardinals at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium.

“I know Sandy [Alderson, team president] had seen me before with the Phillies. I don’t know it was officially put on the table per se, but I truly believe [success against the Mets] had something to do with it. But it’s a good time to be a Met and be a part of this so I am excited.”

Eickhoff, 31, has battled shoulder problems in recent seasons and was tested extensively for thoracic outlet syndrome, but no conclusion was reached regarding the source of the tingling sensation in his fingers. He now receives therapeutic neck massages and said he is feeling his best since 2017. He did not pitch last season.

Jerad Eickhoff
Jerad Eickhoff
Corey Sipkin

“[The Mets] made it sound like pitching depth or starting depth specifically was a real high need, so it really fit the profile for me and that was all I needed to be on board,” Eickhoff said.

Jacob deGrom’s first exhibition start is scheduled for Saturday night against the Astros in West Palm Beach. The Mets’ ace pitched live batting practice Monday rather than traveling to face the Marlins. The calendar will allow deGrom to start five Grapefruit League games before the Mets’ opener in Washington on April 1.

Luis Rojas closed his postgame press conference by offering best wishes to his Yankees counterpart, Aaron Boone, who took a medical leave of absence to receive a pacemaker.

“[Boone] was very welcoming to me when I came into my position,” Rojas said. “A fellow manager from the same city and I have so much respect for him. I will find out more details, but my prayers and thoughts are with him and his family right now.”

Dominic Smith will likely serve as the DH on Thursday in his first action this spring. Rojas said Smith was behind schedule because he was late in beginning workouts last week, after his absence from camp for an undisclosed reason. Rojas plans to gradually work Smith into left field to ensure he is ready physically.

Dick Scott, who served as Mets bench coach in 2016-17 after a stint as the farm director, has returned to the organization as coordinator, coaching development and instruction. Scott, who spent the last three seasons in player development with the Marlins, has roots with Alderson dating to the 1990s with the Athletics.


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