With Mets SP hopeful Zack Wheeler’s big league debut probably taking place a week from tonight at Citi Field, can the Amazins PR dept be faulted for leaving no stone unturned in their attempts to make certain the 23-year-old knows what to expect in Flushing? Other than, y’know, acres of empty seats and a profound lack of run support? If you’re the New York Daily News’ John Harper, the answer is a resounding, “fuck yes”, after the columnist revealed Mets spin doctor Jay Horowitz traveled from DC to Phoenix to Fresno in one day for the sole purpose of spending a half hour “reassuring (Wheeler) the Mets organization will do everything it can to ease him into the spotlight that awaits in New York.” Translation : “whatever Valdespin is doing in the clubhouse, do the opposite.”
“I know it sounds kind of crazy,” Horowitz said, “but I thought it was important to sit down face-to-face with Zack and talk about some things, especially as high as the expectations will be for him.
“To me, it wouldn’t have been the same doing it by phone.”
I can’t say I agree it was necessary. In some ways, in fact, I think it’s symbolic of the way the Mets coddle their players at times, from ownership on down. It may even explain the puzzling sense of entitlement that has been evident at times in their clubhouse in recent years despite all the failure on the ballfield.
“In my heart I felt it was the right thing to do,” he said. “Jeff (Wilpon) thought it was a good idea. He said, ‘Just don’t kill yourself.’ ”
The Mets being the Mets, of course, I had to ask Horwitz if he at least flew first-class. Turns out he couldn’t even get an aisle seat in coach.
“Sat in the middle on the flight to Phoenix,” he said glumly.