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Zack Wheeler feels fine after throwing, but Mets are cautious

New York Mets starting pitcher Zack Wheeler reacts

New York Mets starting pitcher Zack Wheeler reacts against the Philadelphia Phillies during the first inning of an MLB baseball game at Citi Field on Sunday, July 7, 2019. Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

SAN FRANCISCO — For a second day in a row Thursday, Zack Wheeler played catch and felt fine, a positive development that nonetheless came with caution for the Mets.

Wheeler said he made 10 throws from 75 feet and 15 throws from 90 feet. He hasn’t thrown off a mound since landing on the injured list Monday with a right shoulder impingement, an issue he felt early this month, hoped would go away during the All-Star break and spoke up about last weekend in Miami, when it got worse.

“We’ll just see how this plays out with him,” manager Mickey Callaway said. “Obviously, playing catch and [how he feels] continuing to play catch will dictate a lot of what goes on next. So we’ll just feel him out day to day and see where we’re at.”

Usually, a minor July injury to a starter with a 4.69 ERA wouldn’t get much leaguewide attention. Wheeler, though, was and perhaps is the Mets’ top chip leading up to the July 31 trade deadline. He can make a maximum of two starts to assuage whatever concerns interested teams might have, but only if he starts by Wednesday. The soonest he is eligible to pitch is Tuesday, when the Mets face the Padres to open a homestand.

Leaning on Lugo

Rarely used on consecutive days, Seth Lugo recently pitched three out of four days and warmed up Wednesday for what would have been a fourth game in five days.

Lugo said getting that experience has no effect on his comfort level in pitching that frequently in the future. It has more to do with how his arm feels than any sort of mental hurdle cleared.

“Even [Wednesday], I feel like I was as fresh as I was the previous day and the couple days there in Miami,” Lugo said. “I think coming off the All-Star break, having some rest helped me feel fresh.

“I’m comfortable doing it when I feel fresh. I think it just comes down to that. It’s not a matter of ‘I’ve done it in the past, I can do it now.’ It’s just a matter of how I feel.”

Lockett returns

Walker Lockett will start Saturday against the Giants, Callaway said.

In two major-league starts last month, Lockett allowed 10 runs in 7 2⁄3 innings (11.74 ERA). He has a 3.92 ERA in seven games with Triple-A Syracuse.

The Mets acquired the rookie from the Indians for Kevin Plawecki in January.

Extra bases

Callaway said Brandon Nimmo (bulging disc) is free to start ramping up baseball activities after his one-month shutdown. “It sounds like he’s feeling really good,” Callaway said . . . Jacob Rhame served his one-game suspension Thursday. He was banned two games for an April incident with the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins, but that was halved after appeal . . . With lefty Madison Bumgarner starting for the Giants and Callaway wanting to put Juan Lagares in Oracle Park’s vast centerfield, Michael Conforto did not start Thursday’s game . . . Callaway indicated he plans to leave Pete Alonso in the No. 3 spot for an extended period. “What we’re trying to do is get some guys on, so when he hits one 474 feet, maybe it’s a multi-run,” he said. “Keeping him consistently there for now is going to be the best thing.” . . . Amed Rosario, 23, had 10 homers and 10 steals entering Thursday. The most recent Mets younger than 24 to reach double digits in both categories were David Wright and Jose Reyes in 2006 . . . Robert Gsellman turned 26 Thursday. That didn’t save him from mock cheers when he joined his fellow relievers late for their afternoon stretch.

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