Steven Matz has Mets help staying ready during coronavirus

Steven Matz has Mets help staying ready during coronavirus

Steven Matz isn’t alone in his workouts as he prepares for a possible 2020 season.

The Mets left-hander retreated home to Nashville, Tenn., shortly after the COVID-19 outbreak suspended spring training in March, but says he has found it relatively easy to keep in baseball shape. His cohorts include teammate Brad Brach and White Sox catcher James McCann, who live nearby.

“I’ve thrown bullpens twice a week and long tossing about five times per week,” Matz said in a question-and-answer released by the Mets public relations department. “A close personal friend who was in the military for 26 years has a gym in his garage, so I have been working out there, too.”

Matz awaits a potential agreement between MLB and the Players Association that would allow a season to begin. One possible hurdle may have been reduced Monday, when New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo indicated he’s willing to work with local teams if they want to play without fans in their home stadiums or arenas.

Would such an arrangement would affect the manner in which the game is played?

Mets
Steven MatzAnthony J. Causi

“Especially in New York, we get energy from the fans,” Matz said. “So it will be a little different. But at the end of the day, we’re all making adjustments and while we’d love to play in front of our fans, we have to do what the medical experts are telling us to do so everybody is safe and healthy.”

Matz indicated he has kept in contact with new pitching coach Jeremy Hefner and the training staff on a weekly basis to ensure he’s on track. Last season Matz went 11-10 with a 4.21 ERA, finishing the season strong after a lackluster first half.

“I think the biggest thing that Hef has told me is keep the same intent,” Matz said. “Everything should have a purpose while you’re working out or throwing. Keep up the game speed. Act as though this is what you would be doing if the season was going on.”

Matz joins Jacob deGrom, Marcus Stroman, Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha in a rotation that would have a different look from when spring training was suspended. Since then, Noah Syndergaard has undergone Tommy John surgery that will keep him sidelined into 2021, and eliminating the possibility a starter such as Matz would be asked to work from the bullpen.

“Everyone has to continue to be who they are,” Matz said. “Nobody needs to step up, everyone just has do what they are capable of. Losing Syndergaard is tough, because he’s a great pitcher, but we have guys who have done this before. Everyone on the staff has the feeling that when they go out to the mound they want to dominate.”

Other than working out, Matz has kept busy with his charity, TRU32, which has donated money to Elmhurst Hospital, the NYPD and FDNY.

“Taylor (his wife) and I are really inspired by the selfless acts of first responders, doctors, nurses and those on the front line battling COVID-19,” Matz said. “Elmhurst is very close to Citi Field and was hit hard. Our Foundation TRU32 was able to provide them with $12,000 and then the FDNY and NYPD with $10,000 each.”

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