In the wake of the Mets signing LHP Jason Vargas to a two-year deal, RHP Zack Wheeler said his focus remains on being a starting pitcher. He expressed that focus with few words.
But Wheeler regrets being so brief with his answers and understands why that might have been construed as anger, but says that any addition to the team is good.
"I shouldn't have been short about it," Wheeler said. "Anybody who comes and helps out or team is always a plus. ... I barely pitched in two and a half years. I totally understand it."
On Friday, when the news of Vargas' signing broke, Wheeler talked only about being a starting pitcher.
"I'm just here to be a starting pitcher," Wheeler said Friday. "That's what I've always been and that's what I'm going to be. When I'm healthy, I know I'm just as good as anybody out there. So that's what I'm concentrating on."
Pressed further on whether he would be opposed to moving to the bullpen, Wheeler said he's "not worried about that right now."
The 27-year-old Wheeler, who underwent six-months of bone-strengthening injections this offseason in an effort to stay healthy in 2018, had a 5.21 ERA and 1.58 WHIP with 81 strikeouts in 86.1 innings (17 starts) for the Mets in 2017. His last start came on July 22. Roughly a month later, Wheeler was shut down for the season due to a stress reaction in his right arm.
Wheeler missed the entire 2015 and 2016 seasons due to Tommy John surgery and setbacks during the recovery process. Prior to having Tommy John surgery, Wheeler had a 3.42 ERA and 1.36 WHIP in his rookie season of 2013, and a 3.54 ERA and 1.32 WHIP in 2014.
Mets manager Mickey Callaway suggested earlier Friday that the team would not use a six-man rotation this season. That means that Wheeler will likely be battling with Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, Robert Gsellman, and Seth Lugo for one of the final two spots in the starting rotation.