Zack Wheeler had MRI on Saturday, says Mets GM

By on March 16, 2015

PORT ST. LUCIE — Zack Wheeler’s elbow has been a concern for the Mets since last last season. The hard-throwing righthander, who was scratched from his scheduled start on Saturday, had his third MRI on the elbow in six months at the request of Mets team doctor David Altchek.

The MRI was sent to New York for Altchek to look at and as of Sunday evening a Mets source said they had not received word from the doctor.

In the meantime, the Mets pushed Wheeler’s next scheduled start back, without naming a date. Terry Collins said it would be later next week.

“I’m not going to say (when) until I know how he feels,” the Mets manager said.

Losing Wheeler for any length of time would be a blow to the Mets’ lofty goals. The playoff talk and win-now attitude is largely based on the strength and depth of their pitching.

They get back 2013 All-Star Matt Harvey from elbow surgery to pitch in a rotation with 2014 National League Rookie of the Year Jacob deGrom and Wheeler.

Harvey said he spoke with Wheeler, who reassured him about his arm.

“I think it’s probably the same thing that’s been going on,” said Harvey, who will start Monday against the Red Sox. “There is nothing alarming or different from what’s been going on before. I know he’s got some issues with the finger (a blister). Other than that, just a little rest and he’ll be fine.”

If Wheeler is not fine, the Mets have some internal options.

Alderson said the Mets will start Dillon Gee, who has been coming out of the bullpen this spring, in one of Thursday’s split squad games. But the GM warned not to read too much into that.

“I personally don’t put it in the preparation category,” Alderson said. “We’re trying to get Dillon as many innings as possible.”

While the Mets explored the option of trading Gee this winter, Alderson said Sunday that the high risk of injury to pitchers was one reason the Mets were reluctant to deal from their pitching depth.

Wheeler felt discomfort during a winter throwing program and the Mets were concerned enough to bring him to New York from his home in Georgia to be examined by team doctors.

“This possibility, or something like it, has been probably a reason we’ve been hesitant to trade pitching,” Alderson said. “This is what happens. Guys are going down all over the place.”

But the Mets have downplayed the possibility of Wheeler’s problem being serious.

“Well, not really,” Collins said about his level of worry. “He’s had two MRIs this winter, both clean, and he’s had this elbow issue. Last summer there were two or three times during the year where he skipped his bullpen between starts, but he never missed a start. … I am not that concerned.”

Collins and the Mets point out that Wheeler has dealt with elbow tenderness throughout his career and especially in 2014. He started 32 games last season and threw 185.1 innings. He got

better as the season progressed, finishing 6-3 with a 3.04 ERA over his last 16 starts.

Alderson said that Collins and pitching coach Dan Warthen need to continue to be careful with Wheeler.

“Terry and Dan have to be mindful of what is going on, and they are, skipping a start now, that’s part of it,” Alderson said.

“Again we just have to see how the symptoms manifest themselves,” Alderson added. “If they continue at a low level or if they continue at a more intense level.

“Zack is a pretty tough guy.” 

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