NEW YORK -- With Matt Harvey's successful return from Tommy John surgery as their blueprint, the Mets are now eyeing July 1 as a return date for Zack Wheeler.
"It could accelerate a little bit, but we feel real comfortable with that," general manager Sandy Alderson said on Wednesday. "I know he does as well. He felt that he could have come back sooner than that, but we backed him off. So he really hasn't thrown off a mound. He hasn't thrown off a slope. We just said, 'Let's cool it.'"
Since undergoing surgery last March, Wheeler has spoken optimistically about returning as early as June. Though Wheeler may well be capable of that, the Mets leaned on data throughout Harvey's rehab that demonstrated the benefits of taking 15 full months to work out the kinks. Wheeler's 15-month anniversary will be June 25.
Throwing off flat ground at the Mets' Spring Training complex in Port St. Lucie, Fla., Wheeler should advance to mound work soon. The Mets might have considered pushing him if not for the success of Harvey, who did not appear in a professional game until 18 months post-surgery. Harvey went on to make 29 regular-season starts and four more in the postseason, going 15-8 with a 2.75 ERA.
The Mets can only hope for similar success from Wheeler, who went 11-11 with a 3.54 ERA during his last big league season in 2014.
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.