PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — What’s clear right now is that Jacob deGrom will pitch Opening Day for the Mets.
But with coronavirus fears growing by the day — if not the hour — there’s no guarantee there will be fans at Citi Field on March 26 — or that the game will even be in Queens.
For now though, deGrom is keeping his routine throughout spring training.
“I haven’t thought about it too much,’’ deGrom said of a potential change to the schedule. “It’s unfortunate, all this going on. As of right now, I’m just preparing as if everything was gonna happen normal. I think that’s the plan. It could change. For me, I just have to prepare for that day.”
It’s a lesson he learned last year, when three straight rocky starts in April were just about the only tarnish on his second consecutive Cy Young season.
And the hiccup still bothers the right-hander.
“I want to eliminate those starts that get out of control,’’ deGrom said. “I let three in a row get out of control. I wish I could have those starts back, but you learn from it. I felt like I was trying to do too much.”
At this point last spring, deGrom had yet to sign his contract extension, which was something that was on his mind.
“There’s a few differences,’’ deGrom said of his situation from 2019 to now. “But my mindset is the same. I’m trying to get ready for the season. The outside things [with the contract] are a little different. Last year, it was a cool process to go through looking back. The goal is to get ready for the season, and I had more stuff going on away from the field. But my mindset when I take the mound is the same as it was last year.”
He’s hoping the results are the same as they were for most of last season, and his start on Wednesday against the Cardinals at Clover Park was an indication that he may be able to pick up where he left off.
DeGrom allowed just one base runner — a solo homer to Matt Carpenter in a 7-3 win over St. Louis — as he cruised through four innings.
His stuff was better than it was in his previous appearance, which came in a simulated game.
“I felt in that game, I was yanking my pitches a little bit,’’ deGrom said. “Today, I was able to locate my fastball, slider and changeup pretty well.”
For deGrom, it was a rather ordinary day. But his manager, Luis Rojas, is enjoying the view from his new seat in the dugout.
“We didn’t think he would reach his pitch count at one point,’’ said Rojas, who was wowed by deGrom’s efficiency. “His command, his stuff, his choice of pitches were great. He did everything right today.”
It’s something the Mets have grown accustomed to seeing.
“He’s so competitive,’’ Rojas said. “He competes against the guys out there, but he also competes against himself.”
That’s a trait that has also stood out to one of deGrom’s newest teammates, Dellin Betances, who watched deGrom from the other side of town before signing with the Mets during the offseason.
“He’s one of a kind,’’ Betances said. “Just how confident he is. His poise. He knows he’s really good. … He’s been the best pitcher in the game the past couple years. I’m glad to be on his team.”