Noah Syndergaard says the weight has not been lifted from his shoulders, just his lat muscle.
The New York Mets ace tore the latissimus dorsi behind his right arm on April 30 after bulking up during the previous winter. He altered his workouts this offseason under the supervision of Eric Cressey, a performance coach who assisted Corey Kluber and Max Scherzer, and Shane Rye, co-founder of Cressey's company.
"I'm still lifting heavy but in a more smart way," Syndergaard said Thursday, dressed as an elf at the Mets' annual holiday party for children. "Last year was not the necessarily the most smart thing I was supposed to be doing in terms of exercises and choice. I did a lot of pull-ups, and that's primarily a lat exercise, and this year I haven't done one pull-up yet. So it's different. It's still taxing workouts, but my body never felt better."
A 25-year-old right-hander, Syndergaard averaged a career-high 99.6 mph with his fastball this year. But the muscle injury limited him to seven starts and 30 1/3 innings. He made just two appearances for the Mets in his return from the injury, throwing five pitches over an inning against Washington on Sept. 23 and 26 pitches over two innings at Philadelphia on the final day of New York's sorry season.
"I'm extremely confident, just the way I finished the season that last start against the Phillies," Syndergaard said. "I don't think I've ever felt that way before, and I feel like my pitches, my repertoire, even increased even more in terms of like velocity and just straight power."
Syndergaard claimed to have added 17 pounds of muscle last offseason, although Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said in May the 2016 All-Star added only three pounds. Syndergaard has trained this offseason with a Canadian Olympic track coach.
"Worked with me on my sprint mechanics, not that I'm trying to become an Olympic sprinter anytime soon," Syndergaard said, "but just working on overall athleticism so I'm not running like a fat guy in flip-flops anymore."
Right-hander Tyler Chatwood and the Chicago Cubs have agreed to a $38 million, three-year contract. Chatwood is joining a team with three straight NL Championship Series appearances and a World Series title in 2016. He figures to slot into the rotation behind Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks and Jose Quintana. Chatwood, who turns 28 next week, was 8-15 with a 4.69 ERA in 33 appearances, including 25 starts, for Colorado last year. He is 40-46 with a 4.31 ERA over six seasons with the Los Angeles Angels (2011) and Rockies (2012-14, 2016-17). He was limited to four starts in 2014 and missed the 2015 season because of Tommy John surgery. …