Top prospect Zack Wheeler sidelined by oblique strain

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The Mets scratched right-hander Zack Wheeler from his scheduled outing Wednesday because of a strained oblique suffered while hitting in the cage.

Wheeler didn’t believe the injury was serious, saying he hopes to make his next start. The Mets, though, figure to be extra cautious with the 22-year-old, who rates among the game’s top five pitching prospects. Wheeler is already locked in to starting the season in Triple-A, so there’s no reason to take any chances and have him risk a setback.

Wheeler was due to make his first spring start today after throwing two scoreless innings out of the pen Saturday against the Nationals. He was a bit wild in that one, but he topped out at 97 mph.  Had he pitched against the Cardinals today, Wheeler would have had a chance to face Carlos Beltran, the star the Mets gave up to acquire Wheeler from the Giants in 2011.