PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Once the Grapefruit League schedule commences Friday at First Data Field, so does the evaluation process for Mickey Callaway, the pitching coach turned manager who has a Mets rotation to sort out in the next month.
Injuries aside, following the trade for Jason Vargas, it certainly appears that Zack Wheeler is the odd man out, particularly with the Mets still able to option him down to Triple-A Las Vegas. But for Callaway and new pitching coach Dave Eiland, this will be their first close-up look at the staff, to see what they glean from these spring-training outings. In many ways, everyone is starting from scratch here, and Wheeler — who threw live batting practice Tuesday — will be under the microscope more than most.
“We need to see the quality of work in-between his outings,” Callaway said. “Spring training is so hard to judge on results, and like I’ve said before, we’re going to value people’s work. Eventually they have to pitch well. But the things that we want to see in-game are the things that are going to allow him to have success during the regular season, like attacking the strike zone, throwing strike one, those types of things.
“If you see guys do those things in spring training, whether they give up runs or not, those things — field the position the right way, hold runners the right way — all of those things translate into success during the season because all these guys are really talented. So we’re going to be focusing on the little things — the way they get ahead, the way they attack, can they control the running game, and go from there.”
Callaway has yet to announce any pitching plans for the first weekend of games.
A familiar face was back Tuesday at the Mets’ spring-training facility as Terry Collins appeared alongside Sandy Alderson watching from the observation tower rising from between the practice fields. Collins, whose seven-year managerial run came to a close after last season, is now a special advisor to Alderson, but Tuesday was the first time he was a visible presence at camp.
Regardless of the way his tenure ended, Collins remains a popular figure, with plenty of fans tossing stuff up to him to be signed.
Jacob deGrom left the Mets to be with his wife, Stacey, who is expecting to deliver the couple’s second child any day now. The plan is for deGrom to return by Saturday.