The Associated Press
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. – Injured New York Mets closer Billy Wagner threw off a mound Tuesday for what was believed to be the first time since elbow ligament replacement surgery last Sept. 10.
Wagner threw 10 pitches from flat ground, then took the mound in a 23-pitch bullpen session to minor league catcher Juan Centeno. The left-hander completed his workout with pitcher’s fielding practice, then headed to the training’s room for more than an hour before slipping out the back door of the rehab center without speaking to reporters.
“I haven’t seen him since the end of last season, so it’s good to see him, and he is in tremendous shape,” said Mets rehab coordinator Guy Conti, Wagner’s bullpen coach last season. “My job is to observe and see how he looks and see how he feels, and basically, he looks good. He’s really in good shape.” The bullpen session was closed off to media, but Centeno, who spent the last two seasons with the rookie-level Gulf Coast League Mets, said Wagner threw only fastballs and changeups and his placement was “OK.” Conti said Wagner’s legs and body core look strong, but he did not elaborate on his arm strength and said the pitcher’s workout regimen for the remainder of the week would depend on how his body responds to Tuesday’s session.
Wagner did not join the Mets for spring training but followed a program set up by Chris Correnti, a minor league pitching rehabilitation trainer, until the Mets told him to stop throwing in mid-March because they were concerned he was trying to do too much too soon. Conti did not know when Wagner resumed throwing.
Wagner is in the last year of a four-year $43 million contract and will make $10 million this season. He could return to the majors by September.
“I think he was excited to be out there,” Conti said. “He is happy to put the uniform on again, but he is a real tough competitor guy, and we want to see where he is at.” In Wagner’s absence, the Mets signed Francisco Rodriguez and obtained J.J. Putz from Seattle.
Do you want Wagner back, even if it’s in a limited capacity?