PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Not long after undergoing Tommy John surgery last spring, Mets righthander Zack Wheeler began quizzing his rotation mates on how best to bounce back from the procedure.
One of them was Jacob deGrom, who had the surgery early in his career. He suggested mechanical changes that may not only take some stress off Wheeler’s elbow but perhaps sharpen his command.
“I talked with deGrom in the early stages,” Wheeler said on Friday, before pitchers and catchers began their first official workout. “He tried to get his arm up, his elbow up a little sooner. It puts less stress on your elbow and I found doing that you get your hand on top of the ball also when you’re going to home plate. I think it will help my command out a little bit, take a little bit of the tailing off of it but it will still have movement.”
Wheeler, 25, remains on track for a July return from surgery to repair a torn ligament and tendon. He later admitted that he had for years pitched through elbow pain.
The righthander is still throwing on flat ground in preparation for eventually returning to the pitching off the mound.
The Mets included Wheeler in a tentative trade to the Brewers for Carlos Gomez last July — though the deal was nixed at the 11th hour because of medical concerns. In the aftermath, Wheeler reached out to general manager Sandy Alderson. At the suggestion of his agent, Wheeler sought to express his desire to remain with the Mets for the long term.
“I just wanted him to hear my voice personally,” said Wheeler, who is 18-16 with a 3.50 ERA in 49 starts from 2013 to 2014.