Wheeler passes notable Tommy John milestone

Mets pitcher throws off top of mound for first time since surgery

Wheeler passes notable Tommy John milestone

JUPITER, Fla. -- Mets pitcher Zack Wheeler passed another milestone Tuesday on his road back from Tommy John surgery, throwing off the top of a mound for the first time since his operation.

Wheeler had previously thrown off flat ground and completed bullpen sessions from the slope of a mound. On Tuesday, he climbed on top of one at Port St. Lucie, Fla., delivering his pitches from the rubber itself.

The Mets have targeted a July 1 return for Wheeler, who underwent Tommy John surgery last March. Still just 25 years old, he will reenter the rotation at that time, likely bouncing Bartolo Colon to the bullpen if everyone else is healthy.

In his only full big league season in 2014, Wheeler went 11-11 with a 3.54 ERA and more than a strikeout per inning pitched.

Worth noting

Cespedes scratched: Among those originally on Tuesday's travel list to Jupiter was outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, whom the team scratched with a stiff hip. Manager Terry Collins called the issue mild, noting that Cespedes has been playing through it this spring.

It has not seemed to affect his play to any great extent. In seven Grapefruit League games, Cespedes is hitting .368 with four RBIs, though he does not have an extra-base hit.

On deMend: Jacob deGrom, who skipped his scheduled start Monday due to back stiffness, is now expected to start Thursday for the Mets in Jupiter. In lieu of Monday's outing, deGrom threw a bullpen session at Tradition Field.

The Mets expect to line deGrom and the rest of their rotation up for the regular season following Wednesday's off-day, with an Opening Day starter announcement coming as soon as this week.

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.