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Zack Wheeler to skip a turn in rotation with elbow tendinitis

Mets pitcher Zack Wheeler throws a bullpen session

Mets pitcher Zack Wheeler throws a bullpen session during a spring training workout on Monday Feb. 23, 2015 in Port St. Lucie, Fla. Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - Mets righthander Zack Wheeler has been bumped from his scheduled start Saturday with what general manager Sandy Alderson called tendinitis in his right elbow.

Wheeler, 24, also is battling through a blister under the index finger of his right hand.

Both issues, Alderson said, affected Wheeler to some extent last season, but until Friday, the elbow condition had been undisclosed.

Also, an MRI exam on the right shoulder of reliever Vic Black revealed tendinitis.

The Mets' hopes of a breakout season hinge on the stockpile of young arms they have amassed. That group includes Black and Wheeler, the former first-round draft pick and centerpiece of the 2011 trade that sent Carlos Beltran to the Giants.

"We don't think it's serious because it's something he's experienced before and it's sort of an intermittent issue that he has to manage," Alderson said of Wheeler's elbow. "At this point, we don't expect it's going to be a major issue. Again, he's been seen for this in the past. So it's a lot like his finger. The blister under the fingernail is something he's had before and he has to manage it and get through it."

Manager Terry Collins called Wheeler's elbow "a little tender.'' He said there are no plans to send the pitcher for an MRI.

Alderson said Wheeler should make his next turn in the rotation, which lines up Thursday.

With a strong second half, Wheeler went 11-11 with a 3.54 ERA despite a recurring elbow issue.

"He had it looked at in the offseason," Alderson said. "This is something that he experienced a little bit during the course of last season, as well, and has managed. That's what we expect this season. But we backed him off a couple of days for that reason. I don't expect that this is going to be serious."

Wheeler struggled in his last outing, giving up six runs in 1 2/3 innings.

Said Alderson: "Mostly it's the finger that has been a problem for him here in the last few days."

A season ago, Wheeler made nearly half of his starts (14) with at least one extra day of rest. Alderson said Wheeler was given cortisone injections at least once for the pain.

Alderson said Black also is suffering through tendinitis in his shoulder, prompting an MRI on Friday.

Black's shoulder was a problem area as recently as last September, when he was diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff shortly after he returned from a herniated disc in his neck. The two injuries appeared to be related and cost Black nearly a month of the season.

"According to doctors, the neck is not involved," Alderson said. "It's just tendinitis. The MRI is precautionary. It's different in a sense that the neck is not involved at this point. At least that's what I understand."

Black, 26, went 2-3 with a 2.60 ERA in 41 appearances after his promotion last season. In 34 2/3 innings, he established himself alongside Jeurys Familia and Jenrry Mejia to give the Mets a formidable trio in the back of the bullpen.

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