DETROIT -- More than 17 months after last throwing a competitive pitch, Mets right-hander Zack Wheeler returned to the mound Saturday for an inning at Class A Advanced St. Lucie. Wheeler didn't allow a hit but walked a batter and allowed one unearned run on 17 pitches, before a rain delay forced him from the game.
For Wheeler, simply returning to the mound was a victory. The first of Wheeler's multiple setbacks from Tommy John surgery occurred in April, when he underwent a second procedure to remove an undissolved stitch in his elbow. Following a period of rest, Wheeler ramped his throwing back up, only for the Mets to shut him down due to nerve irritation. Saturday marked Wheeler's first competitive game action since undergoing his original surgery in March 2015.
At the time, Wheeler was coming off his first full season in the big leagues, in which he posted an 11-11 record and a 3.54 ERA.
The former top prospect can remain on his Minor League rehab assignment for up to 30 days, meaning he is unlikely to return to the Mets until after rosters expand in September. If everyone else in the rotation is healthy at that time, Wheeler will bump either Logan Verrett or Bartolo Colon to the bullpen.
Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. 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.