PORT ST. LUCIE — If Kodai Senga is a breath of fresh air around the Mets, it isn’t an accident. He’s been practicing his breathing.
When the new Mets right-hander finds himself with little to do, he grabs a balloon and begins blowing it up. After it is inflated, he deflates it and begins blowing again.
“Just using my lungs and opening up my body and closing it the way I want to,” Senga said this week through Japanese interpreter Hiro Fujiwara.
The practice is distinct but not quite unique. Former longtime major league starter Bronson Arroyo reportedly did the same as a quirky means of trying to stay healthy.
Physical therapists also have recommended blowing up balloons, which works out intercostal muscles and can help lung capacity. Maybe as Senga, who signed a five-year, $75 million contract this offseason, pitches into the sixth and seventh innings this season, he won’t be short of breath.
Part of the thinking is it could help his health. Part of the thinking is it will help kill time.
“I like to do it in the car when I’m not really doing anything,” Senga said as he inflated and deflated a balloon by his locker. “[It helps] maintain my body, maintain a good posture.”
Senga touched 98 mph and gave a glimpse of his ghost forkball in his stateside debut Sunday.
The Mets probably looked at Team Venezuela’s starting third baseman and catcher and wished they were in the other dugout.
Eduardo Escobar and Omar Narvaez returned to Clover Park for an exhibition in which the World Baseball Classic participant came away with a 6-4 win Thursday afternoon. Both Escobar and Narvaez singled, and Escobar tried to win money from the Mets’ dugout.
Shifted to left field in the seventh inning, Escobar used Starling Marte’s glove and made a bet with Mets first-base coach Wayne Kirby, third-base coach Joey Cora and bench coach Eric Chavez that he could throw a Met out at home plate.
Unfortunately for Escobar, he never got the chance. How much money was on the line?
“A lot,” Escobar said with a laugh.
Mark Canha, typically an outfielder, got the start at first base and “looked good,” manager Buck Showalter said.
Other first-base options, with Pete Alonso playing for Team USA, include Darin Ruf, Daniel Vogelbach, Mark Vientos and Luis Guillorme.
Four days after Jose Quintana exited a game early complaining of side pain, the Mets still had no further update on the lefty’s health.
The club said Monday that Quintana suffered a “small stress fracture” on his fifth rib on the left side. Quintana was sent to New York for further testing, and the club has said it would provide a timeline for his return “when appropriate.”
David Peterson, who sustained a left foot contusion Saturday, came through a live bullpen session well, Showalter said. The Mets will see how the lefty feels Friday before deciding his next step.