Well, this is a surprise.
Most have assumed that Zack Wheeler’s major league debut will wait until 2013. Odds are it still will, but Mets manager Terry Collins hasn’t ruled out the possibility that it could happen sooner.
According to Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal, Collins told reporters this afternoon that Wheeler is “not out of the mix” for a promotion to the majors this year. Collins made the comments while discussing Matt Harvey as a potential replacement for Dillon Gee, who had surgery Friday to replace a portion of a damaged artery in his throwing shoulder.
Wheeler, who was acquired from the Giants last July for Carlos Beltran, is on the brink of a promotion to Triple-A Buffalo after posting a 2.62 ERA and 88/35 K/BB ratio in 92 2/3 innings over 15 starts at the Double-A level this year. Baseball America recently ranked him as the No. 10 prospect in the game on their midseason list. The 22-year-old right-hander is quickly approaching his career-high of 115 innings from last year and Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes that he’s expected to be capped around 150 innings. Obviously Collins would love the help at the major league level, but Mets general manager Sandy Alderson could have a different opinion on the matter.
While it would probably take a unique set of circumstances for Wheeler to make his way to the majors this year, Harvey could be up as soon as next week. According to Andy McCullough of the Newark Star-Ledger, Mets manager Terry Collins gave the impression that Harvey’s next start with Triple-A Buffalo on Monday will essentially function as an audition to pitch one week from today against the Dodgers. No pressure, kid.
The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.
Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”
Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”
The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.
There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.
Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.