NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Mets top pitching prospect Zack Wheeler’s actions on the mound last week led to an ugly clubhouse incident with “ethnic tensions,” according to the New York Daily News.
Wheeler hit minor league teammate Aderlin Rodriguez on the hand with a pitch during a recent intrasquad game, Mets general manager Sandy Alderson confirmed to WFAN radio on Friday. In a previous game, the Dominican third baseman slugged a home run and Cadillac-ed around the bases, apparently angering Wheeler.
“You know, at some point I think Aderlin and some others felt that it was intentional,” Alderson told WFAN’s Mike Francesa. “Zack has never said it was intentional. I think Aderlin had in the meantime apologized to Zack for the way in which he had gone around the bases.
“As a result, given the fact that a home run was hit, there was an apology, and then a subsequent hit (by pitch), there was some unhappiness on Aderlin’s part and on the part of some other people who didn’t appreciate it — including other Latin players on the team, and other American players, too.”
Rodriguez was incensed, and the home plate ump had to put himself between the two players, according to the Daily News. Emotions spilled over into the clubhouse after the game, allegedly dividing the locker room.
“Some of the American guys and some of the Latin guys were circling and yelling at each other,” a source told the Daily News.
Alderson admitted that ethnicity “to some extent factored in, potentially.”
“We certainly didn’t want that to escalate into something,” Alderson said, “nor do I think it was necessarily central to the original issue.”
Wheeler was the recipient of rave reviews at Mets camp before being sent down to play with his future minor league teammates. The 22-year-old right-hander is slated to start the season at Triple-A Las Vegas, though he’ll likely make his big-league debut this season.
Rodriguez spent last season in Single-A.
Alderson said the organization has had “extensive conversations” with both Wheeler and Rodriguez.
“We think it’s done,” he said. “Inevitably, an incident like that becomes known and has to be addressed.”
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