Sandy Alderson weighs in on Zack Wheeler’s torn UCL

By Danny Abriano

During a conference call on Monday, Mets GM Sandy Alderson discussed Zack Wheeler‘s elbow injury.

The highlights:

  • Wheeler’s tear is a full tear, meaning there will be no rest and rehab option. Instead, once the diagnosis is confirmed, Wheeler is expected to undergo Tommy John surgery.
  • The Mets had been “forewarned” by doctors that Wheeler’s elbow would have to be managed. Wheeler received MRI’s in late-September and over the winter that came back clean. He also had a PRP (platelet rich plasma) injection in November. However, Alderson pointed out that ligament issues aren’t always seen on an MRI until the tear occurs.
  • Alderson responded to a question asking why the Mets weren’t more cautious with Wheeler during Spring Training by saying their belief was that the issue could be managed. He later said that some elbows break and some don’t.
  • There were plenty of times last season where Wheeler did not throw his between-starts bullpen session due to pain in the elbow.
  • Knowledge of Wheeler’s issues had no impact on the Mets’ decision to not trade a starting pitcher this offseason.
  • Alderson twice deflected questions about who would take Wheeler’s rotation spot, saying they’re still letting the injury news set in.


While the Mets knew about Wheeler’s elbow issues last season, they were smart to keep it under wraps. Publicizing something like that would’ve crushed Wheeler’s value and put the Mets in an even worse trading position than they were.

The team could’ve perhaps done a better job in the days leading up to Monday’s diagnosis, but their failure to initially express alarm doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. Wheeler is done for the season, and there’s nothing that’s going to change that.

How the Mets handled Wheeler both in-season in 2014 and during Spring Training will be the main topic of discussion. However, without knowing just how many pitchers manage elbow pain and what exactly the doctors advised the Mets to do, it’s impossible to judge their actions.

As Alderson pointed out, Wheeler’s first two MRI’s came back clean, and the first one didn’t happen until after last season.

Could the Mets have sent Wheeler for an MRI sooner? Sure. Would that have prevented his injury? Who knows.

For now, the focus shifts to who replaces Wheeler.

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