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Saturday, April 20, 2013
Walks a red flag for Wheeler

By Matt Ehalt

Terry Collins can live with Zack Wheeler giving up hits in his Triple-A outings.

Walks, however, are another issue. Especially when Wheeler gives six free passes, like he did Friday for Triple-A Las Vegas.

"That's a red flag and I don't want to see walks from those guys," Collins said Saturday. "I told Zack in spring training, you're going to pitch in a tough place and I was in that league for 12 years, I know how hard that league is to pitch in. But you know what, good pitchers, I saw Ramon Martinez pitch brilliantly in that league, a lot of guys, because they threw strikes. That's going to play. I'll talk to [Las Vegas manager] Wally [Backman] and see what happens. 10 hits, I can understand there, but six walks, he's better than that."

Wheeler, the Mets top pitching prospect, has struggled with his command in Triple-A. In his four starts, he's walked 12 batters spanning 18 1/3 innings. Friday, Wheeler walked six batters in 4 1/3 innings against Sacramento, matching the amount of walks he had combined in his previous three starts.

Collins, who managed in the Pacific Coast League, acknowledged it's a tough league for pitchers as balls fly out of stadiums. That's why he acknowledged that pitchers may give up plenty of hits pitching in that league. Wheeler has served up 20 hits thus far, averaging out to a little more than one per innings.

The Mets manager seemed perplexed about the six walks.

"We know one thing with Zack's history, he doesn't walk a lot of guys, so when I saw the six base on balls today, there's got to be a reason for it," Collins said. "So I'll check with Wally later.

"He's got good enough zone that if he pounds the zone, he'll get people out."