Even without the oblique injury, Zack Wheeler would be opening the season in the minor leagues, which was always the proper decision.
Maybe he wouldn’t have been sent down today with nine others, but as spring training goes on and the need to stretch out the starters increases, Wheeler’s innings would have been reduced, something the Mets did not want to happen.
WHEELER: Heading for Vegas.
Since he is better off getting regular innings, today’s demotion was inevitable. With the oblique hampering him, there’s no sense in trying to squeeze him in. He’s better off resuming a normal routine in the minor league camp, where he’ll throw in the bullpen again before getting into a game.
There’s always the possibility of Wheeler pitching in a “B” game, but for now he’s in the right place for his development. The Mets have long been accused of rushing pitchers – see Mike Pelfrey and Jenrry Mejia – and as they are building again they can’t afford to make a similar mistake with Wheeler, regardless how he feels.
“It’s the big leagues, of course I want to be here,’’ Wheeler said. “I’m not surprised. They told me this could happen.’’
Have you seen Johan Santana?
I found Waldo, but Santana remains among the missing.
WALDO: Have you seen Santana?
That is the question of the day as the increasingly moody left-hander was nowhere to be found despite being scheduled to work out.
Santana has been irritated since the weekend when he threw an unscheduled bullpen session. Manager Terry Collins was unaware and suggested it might be in response to the suggestion by GM Sandy Alderson he wasn’t in top shape when he reported.
Santana, even with his string of injuries that would make anybody depressed, has usually been accessible and friendly. Now, he doesn’t acknowledge hello and blows off the simplest of questions.
Collins excused Santana from today’s workout when the pitcher said he felt it would be better off if he concentrated on physical therapy, such as stretching out his arm.
“We are day to day with him,’’ Collins said. “He’s ready when he’s ready.’’
Collins doesn’t have a date set, but it is closing in on time for a decision to put Santana on the disabled and let Jeremy Hefner prepare himself for Santana’s spot of the staff and Jon Niese to prepare to start Opening Day.
Good morning from Lakeland. Just arrived. The drive was a little over two hours, straight highways all the way through past Yeehaw Junction, dozens of orange groves, junkyards, farms and dilapidated motels.
The weather is nice, but it wasn’t a pretty drive.
The Tigers play in a place called Joker Marchant Stadium, built in 1966. It has been renovated several times. There’s a hill behind the left field fence, much like what the Mets have at Tradition Field in right.
The Mets’ bus just arrived and I’ll be heading to the clubhouse in a few minutes. The Tigers are taking batting practice and there’s only a few people in the stands.
Zack Wheeler said today is the first time he felt exceptionally good since straining his right oblique.
WHEELER: Feeling better.
“Today was the first day I felt 100 percent,’’ Wheeler said. “ Every day leading up to today it felt a little better. It was 100 percent today.’’
Wheeler said he threw all his pitches at about 75 effort, but “I let it out a few times.’’
The plan is for him to rest for two days before throwing another bullpen. Ideally, they’d like to get him in a game sometime next week, but it is dependent on how he responds from this.
Wheeler will open the season at Triple-A Las Vegas even if Johan Santana is not ready for Opening Day.
It is not surprising that GM Sandy Alderson indicated today it is “less and less likely,’’ Johan Santana
would be ready for Opening Day.
Alderson attributed that to Santana not being in good shape when he reported to spring training because he didn’t go through his normal off-season routine after extensive rehabbing the previous two winters.
“From my standpoint, his arm is fine, as far as we know,’’ Alderson told reporters. “Was he ready to pitch when he came into camp? No. Even he may have been a little surprised by that.
“So that leaves us where we are today. And where we are today is getting him ready to pitch as soon as we possibly can. We haven’t rule out Opening Day, although given when we think he might get on the mound, it becomes less and less likely. We haven’t given up on that notion yet. And we’ll see where it takes us.’’
The Mets are kidding themselves in thinking Santana has a chance to make the Opening Day start because he hasn’t thrown off the mound since Feb. 19.
Jonathan Niese will start if Santana opens the season on the disabled list. In that scenario, ESPN reports the earliest Santana could start would be the sixth game of the season.
Also expected to open the season on the disabled list is closer Frank Francisco, meaning Bobby Parnell will get that opportunity.