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Mets’ notebook: Kodai Senga avoids throwing a ghost fork as a precaution in Grapefruit League final start


PORT STREET. LUCIE — The infamous Kodai Senga ghost fork is hard to see (hence the nickname for the pitch), but if you were watching the Mets’ 5-2 Grapefruit League loss at Clover Park on Wednesday, you didn’t see none.

Senga didn’t throw a splitter in his last spring training start in the Grapefruit League. He threw 58 pitches, most of which were fastballs and slicers. He allowed two earned runs and two hits in four innings, walking three and striking out three in a start that he said felt good at some points but “not so good” at others.

“There are a lot of things to work on, a lot of adjustments to make,” Senga said through a translator. “All went well”.

Senga held the splitter in an attempt to prevent a further aggravation of the tendinitis in his right middle finger that had been bothering him for a few weeks. His right-hander missed a start with tendonitis that he feels was the result of changing his grip in the big leagues. He doesn’t think it was his trademark pitching that specifically caused the injury and he’s not worried about pitching it in the future, but he did exercise some caution with just eight days left in the regular season.

“As of right now, I’m not worried about not releasing it at all. I’m not worried about anything, really,” she said. “I just want to make this stint whatever it takes to adjust and get ready to pitch for Opening Day. So if that requires me to cast it, then I will. If not, then I won’t.”

Senga was able to meet Wednesday with Koji Uehara, a right-hander who pitched for Buck Showalter in Baltimore, as well as the Texas Rangers, Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs. Uehara came from Miami, where he had been a member of the World Baseball Classic broadcast team. The two had previously spoken on the phone, but Showalter wanted Senga to be able to meet with the nine-year MLB veteran.

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However, any stories about Shohei Ohtani’s exploits in the World Baseball Classic were heard secondhand. Senga stayed in Port St. Lucie to watch Japan clinch the title on Tuesday night.

“I didn’t go because maybe Buck would be upset if I went,” he said.

Senga will end spring training by pitching in a scrimmage Monday at Clover Park.

The Mets had a former All-Star closer in camp Wednesday, with John Franco and Al Leiter coming to Port St. Lucie as the latest spring training guest instructors. Franco said he could take over his old role and replace injured right-hander Edwin Diaz, but with a caveat: “Only if I can throw from 30 feet,” he quipped.

Absorbing the loss of a great reliever like Diaz is no easy feat, even for a big-armed team like the Mets. But in baseball, there may never be enough pitchers, so the only thing the relief staff can do is try to make up for what they’re missing without Diaz.

“They have to step up,” Franco said. “(David) Robertson has closed before, as has (Adam) Ottavino, so those guys have to step up. Everyone has to step up. It’s a long season and there are injuries and the guys filling in for the injured have to do the best they can. Successful teams have that.”

Right-hander Stephen Nogosek pitched three innings in a minor league game in the back gardens. … Injured lefty Brooks Raley threw live batting practice to injured outfielder Brandon Nimmo. Nimmo had two at bats and ran the bases. Raley (hamstring) is on track to be ready for Opening Day and Nimmo (mild knee and ankle sprain) is hoping to be ready. Showalter would like to see them get into one of the last three Grapefruit League games and he hopes they do. … Right-hander Carlos Carrasco won’t make his scheduled start Thursday in a minor league game, but he will pitch in a minor league game on Tuesday. Carrasco is doing some “elbow maintenance” this week, the same work he has done in the past to keep his elbow healthy.

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