FORT MYERS, Fla. – Zack Wheeler so efficiently dominated a lineup filled with Red Sox regulars that Pedro Martinez interrupted Wheeler’s postgame interview to wordlessly shake the Mets pitcher’s hand.
“(Martinez) is one of the best,” Wheeler said afterward. “I watched him a lot growing up. To get that stamp of approval is pretty cool.”
Wheeler whiffed three batters, including a strikeout-looking to last season’s RBI-leader J.D. Martinez, to punctuate four scoreless innings in the Mets 10-2 win against the Red Sox on Saturday afternoon at JetBlue Park.
The right-hander said he looked at video of his mechanics from last season in between his second and third spring starts. After adjusting the timing of a leg kick on the mound, Wheeler was satisfied with his outing.
Saturday’s Red Sox lineup featured a slew of starters: Andrew Benintendi, Mookie Betts, Rafael Devers, J.D. Martinez, Xander Bogaerts, Dustin Pedroia, Mitch Moreland, Blake Swihart and Christian Vazquez. The only hit Wheeler allowed was to Vazquez in the third inning.
“It pumps you up a little bit,” Wheeler said on facing the Red Sox regulars. “Gets the juices flowing during spring training which doesn’t really happen all that much. It was nice to go out there and face a lot of their main guys and do it well.”
Wheeler boosted his pitch count to 43 on Saturday, and after he painted the inside-corner with a fastball to retire Martinez in the fourth, he appeared comfortable enough to continue carving through any number of batters.
Manager Mickey Callaway is impressed with Wheeler’s ability to effortlessly attack the strike zone.
“He has confidence. You see it,” Callaway said. “His ability to relax and let the ball go with ease. 97-98 (mph) with great break on it. It’s fun to watch. And I’m sure it’s fun for him to be able to go out there and know that he just needs to get ready for the season.”