Zack Wheeler hasn’t eased up his quest to pitch on Opening Day, standing firm on his remarks last week to The Post’s Kevin Kernan which you can read below this update.
Wheeler ramped up his statements to tell Adam Rubin he aims to be on the mound likely opposing Stephen Strasburg when the Mets open the season on March 31 at Citi Field.
“Last year I was coming in trying to win a spot,” Wheeler said Monday. “This year I’m trying to get the Opening Day spot.
“I am a rookie still. And it’s nothing on those guys, on the other starters, because anybody in the starting rotation could be the Opening Day starter. But that’s just my mindset coming in — to push myself to try to get the Opening Day spot.”
That would be a great opening day matchup if it were to happen…
You have to appreciate this kid’s tenacity…
February 6th, 1:00 AM
Move out of the way, Jon Niese. Step aside, Dillon Gee. Don’t even think about it, Bartolo Colon. There’s only one pitcher who can start on Opening Day, and Zack Wheeler wants it badly.
“I’m going into spring training trying to win that Opening Day job,’’ Zack Wheeler told Kevin Kernan of The Post on Tuesday after arriving to the Mets spring training complex in Port St. Lucie, Fla. “That is my mind-set going in, no doubt about it.”
“I feel really good right now and I am really confident going into camp.’’
Wow, I love that kind of swagger…
And if you think Wheeler is the fourth man on the totem pole for that Opening Day nod, not according to Terry Collins and he’s the one that makes the call.
On Monday, the Mets manager told The Post that Wheeler, after just 17 major league starts, is strongly in the running for Opening Day starter with Matt Harvey recovering from Tommy John surgery.
Of course the decision will come down to everyone’s spring training performances, but you gotta love the confidence and enthusiasm that 23-year old Wheeler has going into camp. This is what you want to see from everyone. This is what spring training is all about.
David Wright also understands that there’s a lot riding on Wheeler, especially with Harvey out for the season.
“We need Zack Wheeler to build on what he established last year,’’ Wright said. “He’s got No. 1 stuff. He’s a humble player, but you want him to get that tenacity that he knows he’s got No. 1 stuff and almost get a little swagger to him. He is coming into spring training with that little bit of edge, ‘Hey, I belong here. I got the stuff.’ That’s the kind of maturation we need from our young pitchers to go out there and want to take that next step.’’
Wheeler told Kernan exactly what he needs to do to succeed as he gets set to embark on his first full season in the major leagues.
“The biggest thing I learned last year is what it takes to be successful at the big league level. Not having to do too much, just relying on all your stuff, mentally and physically. What I want to do is control my body. Sometimes last year on like a 1-2 count, I wasn’t trying too hard, but my body would just take over. Now in those situations, just think about how you are going to attack it.’’
As Kernan concludes, if Zack Wheeler can grab that No. 1 spot, the Mets will be off and running with those young, power arms attacking and leading the way.