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Mets ace Kodai Senga continues to throw in bullpen: ‘I still felt different mechanically’

The Mets don’t have a new timeline for Kodai Senga because there is no set timeline for a return at the moment. Even Senga himself is hesitant to target a certain date to make his season debut.

The right-handed ace has taken a step back in rehab for a posterior capsule strain in his right shoulder and is no longer facing hitters. After a few days of curious comments by manager Carlos Mendoza about why he isn’t facing hitters after doing so already, Senga spoke Monday at Citi Field, saying he’s focusing on his mechanics at the moment in part to prevent further injury and also to be able to pitch at his highest level when he’s finally able to start the season.

“With my current mechanics, I didn’t think I’d be able to come back at 100%,” Senga said Monday through translator Hiro Fujiwara. “Taking a little bit of time to look over everything and make sure everything is perfect before getting back into games is the right move.”

Senga is eligible to return from the 60-day injured list May 27, but he’ll need to face hitters in both controlled and live game atmospheres. He threw 45 pitches off the mound Sunday and is aiming to throw another bullpen Wednesday. He will then be able to determine whether or not he can resume throwing to hitters.

Senga has thrown live BP twice to hitters from the Brooklyn Cyclones but didn’t like how the ball was coming out of his hand during that first live session. After the second one, he decided to take a step back.

“After the first live, I felt some differences,” Senga said through Fujiwara. “I wasn’t sure if it was going to be something big or not. And then after the second one, I still felt different mechanically. That’s when I thought I should take a little bit of time to re-look at this because I don’t want to come back this season and say, ‘Oh, I need a couple more days in season when I’m not on the IL.’ I just wanted to really figure it out beforehand.”

Senga is figuring it out in the bullpen and through dry sessions where he throws without the ball to repeat his delivery. The injury, which occurred during early spring training, affected his ability to control the baseball. Coming back without precise control and command wouldn’t be good for his health or the Mets.

“It’s very technical, but to simplify, all my power output was not going towards the catcher,” Senga said through Fujiwara. “I wasn’t able to deliver 100% of it towards the catcher, which is very important. When that is happening, I’m more susceptible to getting hit and also more susceptible to injuries.”

The rehab processes differ drastically in Japan. The 31-year-old is used to calling more of the shots after an injury, with Nippon Professional Baseball teams leaving rehab up to the players. MLB teams are less inclined to do that, but the Mets are letting Senga dictate when he’s ready to face hitters again and when he’s ready to start a rehab assignment.

“If the player feels good, they can keep pushing forward [in Japan],” Senga said. “Here, the trainers have a very well-structured program. So that might be the biggest difference.”

The Mets continue to be in a holding pattern with their ace. They hope to have clarity after his next bullpen, but that’s all they can ask for right now.

“We will continue to evaluate here and see what we’ve got,” Mendoza said. “It’s fluid, flexible, we’ve just got to listen to the player.”


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