Wheeler stays on track in latest 'pen session

Mets righty mixes breaking pitches into 2nd pain-free bullpen outing

Wheeler stays on track in latest 'pen session

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- For the second time since elbow tenderness created a snag in his throwing program, Zack Wheeler climbed atop a mound Wednesday for a bullpen session, the highlight of a rain-shortened day at Mets camp. Manager Terry Collins called it "a real big step forward for him," noting that Wheeler mixed breaking balls into his repertoire for the first time in over a week.

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"The best I've seen him throw down here," was how Collins described it. "The ball came out really well today. Little effort. I'm really excited."

With Wednesday's performance, concern over Wheeler continued to dissipate. But the Mets will still proceed cautiously with the former top prospect, who has not pitched in the Majors since undergoing Tommy John surgery in March 2015.

Battle for Mets' fifth starter

Wheeler will not be among the first wave of Mets starters to participate in Grapefruit League games, nor will he appear when the Mets start mixing in their regular starters the first week of March. But Collins indicated that Wheeler could make his spring debut shortly after the Mets' first off-day on March 7.

Wheeler went 11-11 with a 3.54 ERA during his last full season in 2014.

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.