Mets’ deGrom downplays back issue, aims to pitch opener

Two-time back-to-back National League Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom said Thursday that his back is feeling better and he plans on pitching the New York Mets’ opener against the Atlanta Braves on July 24.The New York ace left Tuesday’s intrasquad game after one inning due to back tightness. A precautionary MRI exam displayed no damage.”What was weird is it was just out of the blue,” deGrom told reporters Thursday during a video conference call. “This was nothing like one pitch — it just was something that didn’t loosen up.”I wasn’t too worried because I didn’t think it was serious. If that was a regular game, I wouldn’t have said anything. But as far as it being a spring training game, or summer camp game, there was no reason to push through something and risk actually injuring myself.”Despite deGrom’s insistence that he will be fine for Opening Day, Mets manager Luis Rojas didn’t want to jump that conclusion.”We’re excited for the news that came out from the MRI obviously being clean, but this is a day-to-day approach that we’re taking,” Rojas told reporters. “We’re all hopeful for a lot of things — that Jake can throw, that Jake can go Opening Day, but right now it’s a day-to-day approach that we’re taking.”