So the Jason Vargas signing may have made Zack Wheeler angry. Either that, or being asked questions about the Jason Vargas signing may have made Wheeler angry. I’m not quite sure, but Abbey Mastracco of NJ.com was there and I wasn’t. So let’s let her explain what she saw and noticed during Spring Training on Friday:
Wheeler was exceptionally curt when asked by reporters how it (the Vargas signing) could change his role. The Mets have long discussed the possibility of using the oft-injured right-hander out of the bullpen, but his arm doesn’t bounce back from starts easily so the up-and-down nature of a relief role doesn’t seem to suit him.
“I’m not worried about that right now,” Wheeler said, when asked if he would considering pitching out of the ‘pen.
Maybe Wheeler isn’t worried, but he doesn’t seem happy.
“I’m just here to be a starting pitcher,” Wheeler said. “That’s what I’ve been and that’s what I’m always 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.”
Here’s video and audio context:
Self-belief? Or saltiness? Could be both.
If anger was truly the magic potion to make Wheeler the pitcher we all hoped he would be, then he can go ahead and be angry all he wants. But anger only works if Wheeler was lazy and unmotivated before. And I’m not going to accuse him of being lazy and unmotivated. Not by a longshot. Anger, however, doesn’t overcome injuries that causes someone to throw 86 innings in three years, and it certainly doesn’t overcome a walk rate of four batters per nine. So Wheeler can be angry all he wants. But signing a starting pitcher was absolutely necessary because 86 innings in three years doesn’t exactly scream “dependability”. I’m sure deep down, Wheeler understands that, which is why he went and got shots in his stomach for six months that normally go to people with osteoporosis or brittle bones. (Old people, like Bartolo Colon.)
So kudos to you, Zack … for giving it your best to try to come back and injecting stuff into your stomach which could result in an alien popping out of you like you were Sigourney Weaver. But if you’re upset that you didn’t get the David Wright treatment, or that you’re not being bequeathed a spot in the Dream Rotation just because you throw a hard fastball, then it’s time to get over it. Because those days are over, and that’s a good thing. The Dream Rotation is dead, and you ain’t in it anymore. Of course, that could change, but that’s up to you, isn’t it. Is anger your best path to get there? Or is it just a waste of energy better served towards focus? You have a few weeks to figure that out.