When March 26 -- the originally scheduled Opening Day -- came around and Mets ace Jacob deGrom thought about how much he missed baseball and missed his teammates, he caught himself.
As deGrom told MLB.com's Anthony DiComo on Monday, he found it "hard to even think" about what it meant for him and the team "because people are losing their lives over this."
"The whole situation, nobody wants to be in this," deGrom said about the coronavirus pandemic. "We're not able to play the game, but there are more important things."
DeGrom is coming off back-to-back Cy Young awards, and while he has shown no signs of slowing down, he will turn 32 years old in June. And deGrom can't remain this dominant forever -- a fact that isn't lost on him as the game remains shutdown.
"You're only good for so long," deGrom told MLB.com. "And I felt really good this spring, so that definitely crossed my mind. I guess now, I've just got try to stay good for a few more years."
Before spring training was suspended and the season was delayed indefinitely, deGrom -- whose competitive instinct is evident even during bullpen sessions, when his glare is the same as it is in the heat of battle -- said his goal was to win a third-straight Cy Young award.
With the season delayed, deGrom said he's been long-tossing regularly and that he feels he'll be able to "ramp it up pretty quick" if and when the season starts.
And ramping it up pretty quick might be necessary, with the likelihood of a second spring training being very abbreviated -- perhaps as short as two weeks -- before the 2020 regular season begins.
"We miss the game as much as the biggest fans," deGrom said. "That's why we play this. We want to be out there competing in front of the fans. That's what we do this for. I just hope that everybody stays safe, and hopefully things get back to normal and we're back out there doing what we love, and competing in front of the best fans in baseball."
While winning the Cy Young in 2020, deGrom rebounded from a relatively so-so first half of the season to dominate in the second half, winding up with a 2.43 ERA and 0.97 WHIP with 255 strikeouts (a career-high 11.3 per 9) in 204 innings.
DeGrom has 1,255 strikeouts over his first six big league seasons.