CLEARWATER, Fla. – Phillies pitcher Zack Wheeler refused to get into a war of words with his former general manager, Brodie Van Wagenen of the New York Mets.
“I don't want to make this go on any further,” Wheeler said Saturday morning. “I don't think it's meant to go on any further. We're two grown-ups here and we're battling like little kids."
“I think it got blown up a little bit out of proportion. I don't think it's anything too serious.”
Wheeler, a Met from 2013 to 2019, left New York in December for a five-year, $118 million free-agent deal with the Phillies. The right-hander was quoted in Friday’s New York Post as saying the Mets did not respond when he gave them a chance to match or top the Phillies’ offer.
“Crickets,” Wheeler said, adding, “It’s how they roll.”
That comment did not sit well with Van Wagenen. He returned the zing by crediting the Mets organization for “helping (Wheeler) parlay two good half-seasons over the last five into $118 million.”
Wheeler was amused by Van Wagenen’s return volley.
“He's taken a couple of things I said to heart, I guess, that I really didn't mean for him to do,” Wheeler said. “But I don't care.”
As for the dig about the Mets helping Wheeler land his big pay day …
“Take it with a grain of salt, I guess,” Wheeler said. “It is what it is. I don't care, personally. I'm happy here. This is where I chose to be at the end of the day, and I'm excited to get going with these guys.”
The Mets-Phillies rivalry was pretty good last year. Remember Jake Arrieta threatening to put a dent in Todd Frazier’s skull? It should be good again this season. In fact, it’s already off to a good start with this Wheeler-Van Wagenen stuff. The two teams meet for the first time March 30-April 1 in a three-game series in New York. Wheeler should get the ball one of those days, but don’t look for him to fan the flames of the rivalry any more this spring.
“You guys are going to get me in trouble,” he said, laughing with a group of reporters in the Phillies clubhouse Saturday morning. “It's going to be fun in the first place. Battling against my old teammates, friends, it's going to be a good time.”