Command issues disrupt Wheeler in spring debut

Right-hander walks two, hits pair of batters in loss to Marlins

Command issues disrupt Wheeler in spring debut

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- As Adeiny Hechavarria nurses a sore right shoulder, Reid Brignac is striving to make the most of his opportunities. The utility infielder had three singles and three RBIs on Monday in the Marlins' 13-2 rout of the Mets at Tradition Field.

The Marlins tagged Mets right-hander Zack Wheeler for six earned runs in 1 2/3 innings. David Phelps allowed one run in three innings for Miami. With the game out of reach, Avery Romero, Miami's No. 3-ranked prospect according to MLB.com, blasted a three-run homer in the seventh inning.

WHEN IT WAS DECIDED

Everything unraveled for Wheeler during a seven-batter, second-inning stretch that included two walks, two hit batsmen and a pair of singles. Blaming some spotty fastball command, Wheeler opened the inning by hitting Michael Morse, then walked Jeff Baker with one out. A strikeout of Don Kelly gave Wheeler a chance to escape the jam, but he walked Cole Gillespie to load the bases before giving up a two-run single to Brignac. The floodgates opened from there, with Morse capping Wheeler's stat line after the righty was chased with two outs and two runners on base. The Miami first baseman tapped a two-run single into center to punctuate the six-run frame. This came one day after Morse connected on his first Grapefruit League home run, a blast to left in a loss to the Cardinals.

Brignac's two-run single

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED

JV1 gets the call: A polarizing figure throughout his seven years in the Mets organization, Jordany Valdespin spent his morning laughing with and hugging several former teammates. Then he played a key role in the game's biggest play. With men on the corners and two outs in the second inning, Valdespin hit a grounder to the right side, where Michael Cuddyer gloved it and flipped to Wheeler. But Cuddyer's throw forced his pitcher to slow down, giving Valdespin enough time to make the play close. The call proved huge. If out, the Marlins would have scored just twice in the inning. Instead, Valdespin's infield single gave Miami a three-run lead, which proved to be the beginning of a big frame.

Valdespin's RBI infield single

Triple threats: Falling into the "something you don't see all the time" category, the Marlins collected back-to-back triples in a three-run third inning. With two outs, Miami strung together three consecutive hits. Brignac had a run-scoring single, and was followed by back-to-back triples by Valdespin and Derek Dietrich, pushing their lead to 9-0.

QUOTABLE

"What you look for right now is not necessarily anything more than making sure his velocity gets up. That, right now, would be a concern. When Josh Edgin's pitching good, he's throwing 93 mph. That's enough to throw it by somebody."
-- Mets manager Terry Collins on Edgin, who sat in the high 80s during Monday's outing.

"It's such a privilege and it's such an honor to hit behind the highest paid athlete ever. It's a role where you basically get hand-picked. It's a role I thrive on doing. I've done it in the past on other teams. I look forward to the challenge this year."
-- Morse on batting behind Giancarlo Stanton.

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS

• Shortstop Hechavarria, dealing with the sore shoulder, is a tossup on whether he will play on Tuesday against the Nationals at Roger Dean Stadium. Manager Mike Redmond said it is "50/50" that Hechavarria will start. The shortstop did take some at-bats on Monday in a simulated game. He has only played in one Grapefruit League game, the opener.

• Dietrich has 416 MLB plate appearances, and he has been hit by a pitch 17 times. Dietrich, you guessed it, was hit by a pitch in the second inning by Wheeler.

• Mets first baseman Lucas Duda took batting practice Monday for the first time since straining his left intercostal muscle in mid-February. Duda took 40 swings on a back field at the Mets' Spring Training complex, with eyes toward making his Grapefruit League debut Friday against the Braves.

WHAT'S NEXT

Bartolo Colon will continue his steady march toward April in a 1:05 ET game against the Braves at Disney on Gameday Audio. Colon, who threw two perfect innings in his first spring outing but did not use his entire arsenal, will oppose Braves right-hander Julio Teheran. Mets bullpen candidate Buddy Carlyle will also pitch in the game.

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro. Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDicomo. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.