PORT ST. LUCIE — Of all of the Mets seeking to regain form following serious injuries, perhaps none took a more drastic or painful approach to improved health this offseason than Zack Wheeler.
The righty starter reported to camp on Sunday and detailed how he underwent six months of Forteo injections in his stomach aimed at improving his bone strength following another injury-shortened campaign in 2017.
“They said two full months will basically heal it on its own, but (former Mets pitcher) Erik Goeddel on our team last year did the injections when he had the same problem and said they helped out tremendously, so I said ‘why not just do it?’ Wheeler said, adding he’s experienced no side effects from the treatment. “Being healthy is the biggest thing. You really can’t hope being healthy, but you can sort of do everything to prevent and that’s what I’m doing this past offseason.
“I changed up my workout routine, started eating a little bit healthier and did those extra shots. Everything I can do to be out there I’m going to do.”
According to its website, Forteo is a prescription medication usually “used in both men and postmenopausal women with osteoporosis who are at high risk for having broken bones or fractures.”
Wheeler, 27, missed all of 2015 and 2016 following Tommy John surgery and then had his return season cut short last August with what the team described as a stress reaction in his right arm. He was 3-7 with a 5.21 ERA in 17 starts when he was shut down, but he’s taken part in new manager Mickey Callaway’s offseason throwing program since mid-December.
“I was happy with where I was at last year before my arm trouble started creeping up on me,” Wheeler said. “I felt happy and excited to be healthy and out there and pitching well, and going out there every fifth day and then that sort of started sneaking up on me, derailed my season.”
Thus, Wheeler’s rotation spot is anything but guaranteed as camp opens, especially following a season in which every Mets starter aside from Jacob deGrom spent time on the disabled list.
“It’s sort of the same as last year. Everybody is battling for the fourth, fifth spot, whatever it may be, and you really can’t think about that. You’ve got to go out there and just pitch and just do the best you can, really,” Wheeler said. “Health is the biggest key and the biggest concern, but everybody seems to be healthy right now and hopefully can stay that way…
“You think about it every year coming into spring training. Man, I wish we could all be out there and healthy at the same time, because I know we can do a lot of damage and hopefully that will happen this year.”