‘I got really into it’ – Boston Herald | #ThePayoff Wordle 613 X #twug Tommie #JJK214 Yuji Adin Ross #RHONJ #JJKSpoilers Creighton Vivek Daily Quordle 394

PORT ST. LUCIE — John Curtiss needed something to do.

The right-hander was recovering from Tommy John surgery and with his right arm out of commission, he was unable to play his guitar.

With little to fill his time, his physical therapist in Arizona turned him on to a sport that is rapidly gaining popularity in the United States: Formula 1. Curtiss watched the final nine races of the 2021 season and was hooked.

“The last nine races of 2021 were kind of a crazy championship season,” Curtiss told the Daily News this week at Clover Field. “That kind of drew me in. And then over the offseason and during the lockout, I spent a lot of time researching the history and the cars and how it worked. I got really into it.”

The Mets signed Curtiss last April knowing they would be unable to use him in 2022 and they moved his rehab to Port St. Lucie. With nothing do to except rehab, the F1 fandom continued to grow.

“Last season, I had all the time in the world to watch all the qualifying races,” Curtiss said. “It’s really cool and easy to follow along with.”

Somewhere along the line, it became about more than entertainment. Curtiss saw the winning mentalities of the drivers and executives, especially Toto Wolff, a former driver from Austria who is now a part owner of Mercedes’ F1 team, and the team’s star driver, Lewis Hamilton. He felt he could apply those lessons to baseball.

Spending time around other athletes while rehabbing in his native Oklahoma helped him understand this as well. Now, he has to take that mentality and use it to try and crack the Mets’ Opening Day roster.

The Mets have at least one spot, possibly two, up for grabs in the bullpen. Curtiss, a 29-year-old Dallas native drafted in the sixth round by the Minnesota Twins out of the University of Texas, is competing with a group of young pitchers who all have options. Curtiss has one option year left as well, which fits with the Mets’ overall goal of having a flexible group that can be shuttled back and forth from Triple-A Syracuse as needed.

Right-handers Jeff Brigham, Sam Coonrod, Elieser Hernandez, Stephen Ridings and Zach Greene are in the same group. However, since Greene was a Rule 5 Draft pick, the Mets are unable to use his options. He’ll have to be placed on outright waivers and should he clear, offered back to the Yankees.

Left-hander Joey Lucchesi could be used as a long reliever, though with Tylor Megill and David Peterson needing innings, it seems more likely he could begin the season as a starter in Triple-A. Right-hander Stephen Nogosek put up good numbers for the Mets last season, but his spot isn’t guaranteed and he’s out of options.

Curtis has more Major League experience than many of those arms, having pitched in 76 big league games and made five starts for five organizations since 2017, and he also has a new pitch. Much like with his F1 fandom, it was all of that downtime that led to him adding a changeup to his arsenal.

After nearly two years away from baseball, he was pretty bored.

“You’re not allowed to throw a breaking ball, but you can throw a changeup before you can throw a breaking ball on your rehab,” Curtiss said. “It’s boring just throwing baseballs from 120 feet. So I got to a point where they said, ‘OK, you’re allowed to throw a changeup.’ I said, ‘OK, well, I don’t have one.’ And then the rehab pitching coach, Dakota Herman, and I worked on it really hard. At a certain point, it went from just messing around to being a viable pitch.”

Curtiss had his surgery on a Friday in September of 2021. To make the rehab process a little less daunting, he started using Fridays as a measuring stick day of sorts. Each Friday brought another benchmark in his rehab. Plus, Friday means he’s only a day away from a weekend of F1.

Curtiss is now healthy, ahead of schedule and ready to show the Mets what he can do.

“This my seventh team, I’ve been around to know you don’t play GM, you don’t play coach, you just play player,” Curtiss said. “So it’s my job to go out there and pitch well, and let everything fall where it wants.”


The Mets will hold an intrasquad game Friday at Clover Field, beginning at 1:10 p.m. It’s open to the public, with tickets costing $10. The proceeds will be donated to the Boys and Girls Club of St. Lucie County. Concessions will be open to fans but they should be advised that the game will not be a complete nine-inning contest.


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