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Rosario close to returning from groin soreness

Mets shortstop says he is day to day; Wheeler sharp vs. Yanks
MLB.com @AnthonyDiComo

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Mets shortstop Amed Rosario clarified the confusion surrounding his leg injury on Wednesday, saying his eagerness to recover from left knee tightness may have caused the soreness he currently feels in his groin.

"Fortunately, I feel better about my knee," Rosario said though an interpreter. "Maybe I was trying to take care of my knee so much that I felt something sore in my groin area."

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PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Mets shortstop Amed Rosario clarified the confusion surrounding his leg injury on Wednesday, saying his eagerness to recover from left knee tightness may have caused the soreness he currently feels in his groin.

"Fortunately, I feel better about my knee," Rosario said though an interpreter. "Maybe I was trying to take care of my knee so much that I felt something sore in my groin area."

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Initially when Rosario departed Saturday's game, the Mets called his issue knee weakness. The groin issue did not arise until about two days later, Rosario said, preventing him from holding to his original plan of returning to the lineup Tuesday. The shortstop continues to call himself "day to day," noting that "in a couple of days I will be back for sure."

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The MRI that Rosario underwent Tuesday came back "totally clean," according to Mets manager Mickey Callaway. But the team is nonetheless starting to grow worried. While there is little concern that Rosario won't be able to make it back for Opening Day, the Mets would like to see the 22-year-old receive much more playing time than the four games he has appeared in so far.

"We want Rosario to be the best defender he can possibly be, and he's missing some valuable days," Callaway said. "Now, is it going to hold him out for the start of the season? Four days probably wouldn't. But yeah, it's valuable reps and playing time that he's missing. So it's a concern."

Mets Spring Training info

Secondary focus
Given a full week to work out the issues that plagued him in his last appearance, Zack Wheeler spent time with pitching coach Dave Eiland refining his curveball delivery. Wheeler spiked several curves into the dirt during his Feb. 28 outing against the Braves, resulting in two wild pitches and a run that didn't have to score.

Back on the mound Wednesday, he threw his curve both early and late in counts, featuring improved control over the pitch.

Video: NYY@NYM: Wheeler K's four over three scoreless frames

"That was a big focal point for me and Dave during the bullpen sessions," Wheeler said. "We were really keying in on the curveball and the two-seamer because they've been off a little bit, both of them. And both of them were good pitches for me today."

All told, Wheeler delivered three shutout innings in the Mets' 11-4 loss to the Yankees, striking out four. His ERA dropped to 1.80, legitimizing Wheeler's candidacy for the Mets' fifth starter job.

But Robert Gsellman, who allowed an unearned run in 3 2/3 innings in relief of Wheeler, and Seth Lugo have also enjoyed strong springs. And Steven Matz, who has struggled, still has plenty of time to make a run at the rotation spot.

"Everybody else is throwing good, too," Callaway said. "To make that decision is going to be very tough for us toward the end."

Video: NYY@NYM: Wheeler discusses his strong spring start

Camp battles
Also vying for a job on the Opening Day roster, Rafael Montero entered Wednesday's game with a 4-1 lead, striking out the first batter he faced before allowing three straight singles and a bases-loaded walk. Although a subsequent error ensured that only two of the five runs against Montero would be earned, his ERA still ballooned to 6.23.

"I really couldn't tell what his intent was with his pitches," Callaway said.

Out of Minor League options, Montero has the inside track on a bullpen job, provided he shows improvement over the final three weeks of spring.

Injury updates
• Assuming he comes out of a bullpen session later this week without issue, Jacob deGrom will make his Grapefruit League debut Sunday against the Astros, Callaway said. Because back tightness delayed deGrom's schedule more than a week, it is unlikely he will start Opening Day for the Mets.

• Reliever Anthony Swarzak, who has not pitched since Feb. 27 due to a strained left calf, threw a bullpen session Wednesday. He should return to game action soon.

Up next
Noah Syndergaard will make his third spring start Thursday when the Mets travel to West Palm Beach, Fla., for a 1:05 p.m. ET game against the Nationals. Syndergaard will oppose Stephen Strasburg in a battle of two of the National League East's best pitchers.

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.

New York Mets, Amed Rosario, Zack Wheeler