SAN DIEGO -- Returning to competitive baseball after a two-year recovery from Tommy John surgery, right-hander Zack Wheeler knew, was always going to be a path fraught with difficulty. Last month, Wheeler spent time back on the disabled list due to right biceps tendinitis. On Monday, he landed there again
SAN DIEGO -- Returning to competitive baseball after a two-year recovery from Tommy John surgery, right-hander Zack Wheeler knew, was always going to be a path fraught with difficulty. Last month, Wheeler spent time back on the disabled list due to right biceps tendinitis. On Monday, he landed there again with what the Mets called a "stress reaction" in his right arm.
"I think this is something that came along from just not pitching for two years, and ramping it back up," Wheeler said. "I knew something might happen this season. But I didn't expect something quite this harsh."
Though Mets officials said they do not consider Wheeler's injury serious, they offered no timetable for his return. The club recalled right-hander Tyler Pill from Triple-A Las Vegas as a bullpen option until Wednesday, at which point Chris Flexen, ranked as the Mets' No. 17 prospect by MLBPipeline.com, will be called up to make his big league debut in Wheeler's rotation spot.
"I'm not going to be dumb and try to push something that I think would hurt me after missing two full seasons," Wheeler said. "That's just stupid."
Instead, Wheeler alerted the Mets' training staff about a week ago to his right arm discomfort. He attempted to pitch through it on Saturday against the A's, but he gave up five runs in five innings. Afterward, Wheeler underwent a CT scan that revealed a stress reaction in his humerus bone.
"He's dealt with it for a little bit," manager Terry Collins said. "It's bothered him from time to time. We just thought that right now, maybe it's time to give him a rest."
Overall this season, Wheeler is 3-7 with a 5.21 ERA, including a 9.89 mark over his last six outings. That stretch included Wheeler's first DL stint, which cost him only one start.
Undergoing Tommy John surgery in March 2015, Wheeler subsequently suffered multiple setbacks that cost him all of '16. Still just 27 years old, he entered this season under a soft innings limit, which is now essentially redundant due to the time he has missed.
"I sort of expected bumps in the road coming back this year," Wheeler said. "It's just unfortunate because everything else feels awesome -- elbow, shoulder, everything feels great. And that's why it's so frustrating for me. The surgery repair feels great. This is something stupid and small that I can't help. I just want to go out there and pitch, but this is holding me back for a bit."
In Wheeler's absence, the Mets will turn to Flexen, who has dominated two Minor League levels since returning from minor preseason knee surgery. Over seven starts at Double-A Binghamton, Flexen is 6-1 with a 1.66 ERA, 50 strikeouts and seven walks in 48 2/3 innings.
"He's pitching very well," Collins said. "He's had some very, very good starts in Binghamton. And we're anxious to see him -- very anxious."
Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook.