WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — When Joey Lucchesi exited and analyzed his first Grapefruit League appearance, the left-hander realized he’d lost control of his tempo. And that, he said, doesn’t usually happen.

He was wild and hit a batter during his 1 ¹/₃ innings during the Mets’ 4-1 loss to the Nationals on Tuesday at CACTI Park of the Palm Beaches.

Those were signs something was wrong.

His internal clock was off — nothing connected to one specific pitch — after he entered in the fifth, and it led to Lucchesi allowing four runs on four hits in an audition to earn a rotation spot.

“I understand what I did wrong and somewhat right in that outing,” Lucchesi said. “I’ll be all right. I’ll be good. Just gotta not let it speed up on me next outing.”

He was supposed to throw March 6 until the game got rained out, so Lucchesi — who manager Carlos Mendoza said arrived to camp a “little bit behind” — resorted to pitching on the back fields.

He still felt “solid” with his innings, he said Friday, despite not appearing in the Grapefruit League.

But four days later, Lucchesi — who went 4-0 last season and logged a 2.89 ERA across nine Mets outings — began by allowing an infield single.

A walk and hit-by-pitch followed to load the bases, and even though Lucchesi induced a double play, the Nationals managed a run.

Everything spiraled in the sixth, when Washington placed runners on first and third. Nick Senzel singled to center, Mendoza removed Lucchesi and both inherited runners scored.

Lucchesi was a “little scattered” and “couldn’t put hitters away,” Mendoza said. But the 30-year-old still thinks he has enough time to build up for the season, even with the delayed debut.

“I’ll be fine,” Lucchesi said. “… I feel like I’ll be solid.”


Before Mendoza took questions from reporters Tuesday afternoon, the Mets’ manager had another topic to address.

Darryl Strawberry, the franchise legend and former outfielder, revealed Monday that he’d suffered a heart attack and was recovering. It prompted team owner Steve Cohen and his wife, Alex, to release a joint statement that recalled Strawberry’s time as a guest instructor at Mets camp last month, while also adding that they looked forward to his recovery ahead of a June 1 number retirement ceremony.

And Mendoza echoed a similar sentiment.

“I want to start by sending our prayers to Darryl Strawberry,” Mendoza said. “Praying for him, wishing him a quick recovery and hoping to see him back in a Mets uniform soon. So praying for him and his family.”

Strawberry, who turned 62 on Tuesday, spent the first eight years of his career with the Mets and won the 1986 World Series with them, posted on Instagram on Monday that he was recovering at SSM Health St. Joseph Hospital in Lake St. Louis, Mo. and that “all is well.”


Mendoza declined, again, to name an Opening Day starter, but said “we’re getting close.”

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