Mets Notebook: Jose Quintana going through rehab ‘One step at a time’
MIAMI — Jose Quintana had never felt pain like the one he felt March 6 in Jupiter. The 34-year-old Mets lefty had felt great every day leading up to his second Grapefruit League start and he was looking forward to getting on the mound, putting in some work and departing for the World Baseball Classic.
But there was a strange pain in his chest when he was warming up for his spring start against the St. Louis Cardinals. After making it through one inning, he went back to the dugout and had trouble breathing. He was worried it could be a problem with his heart.
“I started my warmup and I felt way better than my first outing in spring training,” Quintana said Thursday at LoanDepot Park before the Mets’ season opener against the Miami Marlins. “My pitch was really good, it was great. But that pain in my chest, I was scared. As soon as I got back to the bench, I couldn’t breathe really good and I couldn’t move my arm like I usually do.”
We now know what the pain he was feeling was — a stress fracture on his rib caused by a benign tumor. Quintana has been shut down since March 6 and recently underwent a bone graft procedure to correct the issue.
He was back in the Mets clubhouse Thursday to support the team on Opening Day, proudly showing off the scar on his left hip where the doctors retrieved bone for his rib.
It was a scary few days for Quintana and his wife, Michel, as they received the diagnosis of a tumor and it was biopsied. They opted not to tell the rest of the family until they received the results of the biopsy so as not to worry their kids or anyone else, and luckily it came back negative.
“It was a surprise for me but scary at the same time,” he said.
Quintana will begin his rehab this week in New York and expects to continue rehabbing there. He was finally allowed to start moving around this week and was happy to be back in the clubhouse with the team.
However, he’s still not quite sure when he’ll be able to pitch again. The Mets expect him to be shut down through June and are eying a July return, but much of it depends on how his rehab goes and how long he needs to build back up to be able to get to game shape.
“I don’t know yet,” he said. “I don’t have dates. This week I start to get moving and can work out. Let’s see, it’s one step at a time.”
This is Quintana’s first extended stint on the injured list. He has only been placed on the 10-day list three previous times in his career and none since 2021. Quintana signed a two-year, $26 million contract in December and the Mets targeted him, in part, because of his durability.
THE BELT IS BACK
The Mets’ infamous WWE title belt is once again being passed around to the player of the game after each win. Left-handed reliever Brooks Raley was awarded the belt after pitching a perfect eighth inning to preserve a 5-3 lead. Raley faced a tough part of the lineup with pinch-hitter Jon Berti, the 2022 NL stolen base leader, in the No. 9 spot, followed by leadoff hitter Luis Arraez and Jean Segura. He struck out the first two, got ahead in the count on Segura and got him to ground out to Francisco Lindor for an easy out.
It was a debut outing for the 34-year-old Texan, who came to the Mets in a Winter Meetings trade with the Tampa Bay Rays. He thought David Robertson would get the belt after converting the save, but he was happy to receive the honor from his teammates.
“This is my fourth straight year with my fourth different team, so I’ve gotten accustomed to wearing different jerseys and whatnot,” Raley said. “From day one, I’ve really enjoyed being with the Mets and the staff has been great. Getting off to a good start is always a great thing. It was a good Opening Day.”
MAN OF THE PEOPLE
Owner Steve Cohen was on hand for the Opening Day festivities, blending into the crowd in the left field seats. Cohen donned a 7 Line Army “Queens South” shirt and sat in the stands high-fiving fans for part of the game.
The 7 Line made their presence known.
“It felt like a home game,” outfielder Brandon Nimmo said. “There were a lot of ‘Let’s go Mets’ chants and the 7 Line showed up in full force. It was awesome.”