PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - As part of the fallout from Zack Wheeler's season-ending elbow injury, righthander Rafael Montero appears to have a clear path toward making the Opening Day roster.
Dillon Gee was slated for the bullpen until Wheeler's injury opened a spot in the rotation. That leaves a relief opening for Montero, who will be considered as a starter if Gee falters.
"We have to protect ourselves by having another candidate that we feel comfortable with,'' Terry Collins said. "And I think Rafael is that guy.''
Montero, 24, went 1-3 with a 4.06 ERA in 10 games (eight starts) for the Mets last season. But general manager Sandy Alderson believes he would benefit from avoiding another stint at Triple-A Las Vegas.
"He's done very well over almost two seasons at Vegas,'' Alderson said. "I'd hate to overcook a guy by sending him back again.''
Harvey to face Yankees
Matt Harvey's fourth Grapefruit League start will be Sunday against the Yankees. He'll pitch with an extra day's rest.
Gee and Jonathon Niese will start split-squad games Thursday, with Bartolo Colon going Friday. Noah Syndergaard starts Saturday, backed up by Long Island's Steven Matz on three days' rest.
Matz threw one scoreless inning in Tuesday's 6-4 win over the Marlins. "I feel good,'' Matz said. "I think I only have one walk. Early in spring, that's what I really focus on, just getting a feel for all my pitches and throwing strikes.''
Jacob deGrom dominated in his start, allowing one hit and facing the minimum 15 batters.
Reliever Vic Black threw off flat ground for the first time since an MRI exam revealed no structural damage in his shoulder . . . Reliever Bobby Parnell was scheduled to throw off a mound. His first game action since Tommy John surgery has been delayed by a hamstring strain . . . The Mets cut pitchers Cody Satterwhite, Tyler Pill, Matt Bowman, Gabriel Ynoa and Hansel Robles. They also cut infielders Wilfredo Tovar and Dilson Herrera, bringing the number of players in camp to 47 . . . David Wright returned after being away since Saturday tending to a family matter in Virginia.
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