PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (CBSNewYork) — Zack Wheeler seemed somewhat annoyed when asked by reporters Friday about the Mets signing left-hander Jason Vargas.
The move introduces stiff competition for the back end of the Mets’ rotation — Wheeler, Matt Harvey and Steven Matz. Playing for the Kansas City Royals last season, Vargas tied for the MLB lead with 18 wins.
“I’m just here to be a starting pitcher,” Wheeler said. “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.”
Wheeler curtly added that no one has spoken to him about his role this season and said he’s not worried right now about a possible move to the bullpen.
But should Wheeler be bothered by the Vargas signing? That was a topic that was debated on WFAN’s “The Afternoon Drive With Carlin, Maggie and Bart” on Friday.
Chris Carlin said Wheeler has to understand his place.
“You did not pitch in 2015, you did not pitch in 2016, and you had 17 starts last year — you went 3-7 with an ERA north of 5,” he said. “Zack, this is how things are. This is the game. This is the business of the game. And he might be temporarily ticked off about it and they (the media) got him at the wrong moment, but I’m sorry, my sympathy for Zack Wheeler is limited at the moment.”
Maggie Gray, however, said she found it shocking that no one with the Mets had yet spoken to Wheeler about his role.
“Because I thought when (manager) Mickey Callaway came in, he said: ‘I’ve been talking to the guys. The communication has been really good,'” she said. “I guess maybe roles don’t have to be defined the first week of spring training, but I thought they would have had this conversation.”
Bart Scott said a chat with Wheeler if his role is changing is simply “professional courtesy.”
“As your pitcher and this is my role that I’m in the starting rotation and I’m going to be switching, which is a dramatic change for me, tell me,” he said. “And I understand that it’s a little different because they just closed the (Vargas) deal, so now these conversations need to be happening right now, because you don’t want him to shut down already and become that guy.”
“The Afternoon Drive” also asked Hall of Famer Tom Glavine about the situation.
“With all due respect to Zack, I think it takes a lot more than he’s accomplished,” said the Braves great and former Met. “He’s got a ton of talent, but he hasn’t been able to stay on the field. So what exactly do you have to be perturbed about?”