- Adam Rubin, ESPNNewYork.com
- 0 Shares
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- New York Mets fans justifiably link them as the future co-aces of the franchise.
Manager Terry Collins has placed Wheeler and Harvey's lockers side by side in the clubhouse during spring training. The primary aim is not to forge a bond, though. The intention is to allow Wheeler to soak in everything Harvey does, since Harvey went through last year what Wheeler now will experience in his first big league camp.
"I already talked to Zack. One of the things he wanted to do was pick Matt's brain a little bit," Collins said. "I just want him to understand some of the things Matt went through last spring -- he's going to go through it. One is, look, we know how good your arm is. Pitch.
"I've already told him his chances of making the club are thin, but there are no guarantees. Things can change. Go about it just like Matt did last year. 'Hey, look, I'm going to make this team.' But if you don't, go pitch your way back. Fast."
Wheeler and Harvey texted on occasion during the offseason. Wheeler is from Atlanta, where Harvey has spent some of his offseason in recent years.
Wheeler thought they might both throw to Mike Nickeas a few times this winter, since the former Mets catcher also lives in Georgia. But while Wheeler and Nickeas connected, Harvey did not end up being part of that group. Harvey spent more time in the tri-state area this offseason than in the South, working out and also attending New York Rangers games, where he befriended goaltender Henrik Lundqvist.
"We never played with each other. We've never been in the same clubhouse or anything like that," Harvey said about Wheeler. "This year, obviously, spring training will be the first time. Having lockers next to each other, we're both baseball players who have the same mindset. So getting along, I don't think, is going to be very tough."
Said Wheeler: "I mean, we've been texting over the winter, or whatever small chat and all that. That's really about it. We haven't been out together or anything. He usually spends his time in Atlanta, but I think he spent a good bit up in New York this year. So we really haven't hung out or anything."
What can Wheeler learn from Harvey?
Harvey, the veteran of the duo at 23 years old, pointed to two things he learned last year:
No. 1: Pace yourself during spring training, and don't go full throttle in every bullpen session. After all, it's a long season.
No. 2: If you end up in Triple-A, just do the same as you would at the major league level -- try to get the batter in front of you out. Don't have your eye somewhere else.
"It's all new," Harvey said. "You're over there and you're watching guys like Johan [Santana] and [R.A.] Dickey and [Jonathon] Niese and [Dillon] Gee. You're watching how they prepare for 162 games and 200-plus innings. That's something that I've never seen. Watching the preparation that those guys had in order to throw 200-plus innings was kind of eye-opening to realize.
"For me, in college, it was throw all year long, and maybe throw 100 innings and you're good. Now it's kind of pacing yourself, not throwing 50 pitches in a bullpen [session] at 100 percent or 90 percent or 80 percent. Johan did a good job of that last year. He was letting it go a little bit, but not pushing for 40 or 50 pitches. I'm the kind of person, I like to throw a lot. Sometimes it's stepping back and realizing, 'Hey, this is a long process. Throwing until the end of September is a long time from now.'"
Assuming Wheeler ends up in Triple-A, Harvey added: "If there was any advice I would give, especially to Zack, it's: 'Don't worry about what's up here [in the majors]. Worry about getting that guy out. That's your job.'"