On-Base Perception

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Everybody hurts: The latest on the banged-up Mets

Mets pitcher Zack Wheeler throws during the team's

Mets pitcher Zack Wheeler throws during the team's first pitchers and catchers workout at spring training baseball in Port St. Lucie, Fla. (Feb. 13, 2013) (Credit: AP)

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Lucas Duda's swing is feeling pretty good. In the Mets' 11-4 loss to the Cardinals on Tuesday afternoon, Duda knocked in each of his team's runs, finishing 3-for-4 including his fifth home run of the spring. But the bigger news of the day came from off the field:

-- Yes, the Mets have a banged-up starting rotation. But no, they're not calling up prospect Zack Wheeler to start the season, according to manager Terry Collins.

If the Mets were to call Wheeler up during the first month of the year, it would cost the team an extra year of team control, meaning that the righthander would qualify for free agency a year early.

Besides, Collins indicated that Wheeler could use more development time.

"He needs to go to Triple-A," Collins said. "He needs to face hitters in Triple-A."

-- With Shaun Marcum likely headed for the disabled list, Collins said recently cut lefthander Aaron Laffey is the Mets' "No. 1" option to step into the starting rotation. Marcum's right shoulder impingement is improving though he is taking anti-inflammatory medication for what the team called "neck discomfort."

Collins said Marcum will go through more tests on Wednesday. But since the veteran righthander hasn't pitched since March 15, he'll need more time to get ready.
Said Collins: "To have him all of a sudden ready to pitch game three or four, I'd be surprised. Tomorrow we'll know more."

-- Jenrry Mejia will be shut down for two weeks, according to the team. The pitcher has been sidelined with elbow tendinitis. Had Mejia been healthy, he likely would have been ahead of Laffey.

An off day in the schedule will allow the Mets will use four pitchers the first time through the rotation. Laffey, likely fifth starter, won't be needed until April 7. Until then, Collins said he would likely be used in the bullpen.

-- Jeremy Hefner doesn't expect to miss more than a few days after he was struck near the right elbow by a Carlos Beltran comebacker. X-Rays came back negative for Hefner, who has a bruised elbow. Hefner is Johan Santana's replacement in the starting rotation.

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