Mets are treating Wheeler with kid gloves as he tries to make his return from Tommy John surgery
So it begins. Zack Wheeler felt tenderness after a recent bullpen session, pitching coach Dan Warthen said Wednesday.
Wheeler may be given an extra day of rest and the Mets believe that scar tissue is the source of the tenderness.
Warthen added that Wheeler’s elbow, which was recently examined during his routine physical, is structurally sound.
Regardless, every time the words, “Zack Wheeler” and “tenderness” are used in the same sentence, it’s a collective hold your breath moment.
Wheeler has been unable to suit up in an MLB game since September 2014. Since then, it’s been a very bumpy ride to try to get back on the mound.
Also revealed on Tuesday was our first idea of an innings limit. Warthen told reporters they expect to keep Wheeler’s innings in the low 100s. They’re obviously going to be extremely cautious considering the setbacks that have occurred for someone whose timetable for a return was originally set for July 2016.
Earlier this week, we documented the fifth starter competition. With this latest development, Wheeler could be taken out of this spot at some point and moved to the pen. The only question is when will that happen?
I personally believe Warthen and Terry Collins will take things slow, and keep Wheeler in the pen to open the season with very limited (if any) appearances in back-to-back games. The hope would then become once we get deeper into the season that Wheeler will be in a better rhythm and able to contribute in a starting role for the second half of the year.
You can never be too careful with anyone coming off Tommy John surgery. That statement is only heightened when a pitcher like Wheeler has endured a slow recovery.
Considering the amount of injuries that piled up last season, Mets fans are going to be more anxious when news like this comes out in February. Hopefully, Wheeler’s routine not changing drastically is a sign that this discomfort is only minor.