CHICAGO -- Usually affable, Mets catcher John Buck was noticeably irritated following Tuesday's loss to the White Sox. The reason? Manager Terry Collins pinch-hit for him with the tying run on second base and two outs in the ninth.
"I don't have any problem with players being upset when they come out of a game -- none whatsoever," Collins said. "And I don't blame him. But I certainly didn't want to have a guy who I think is -- if not the best hitter -- certainly one of the top two hitters on my team, sitting on the bench when the game's over against a right-handed pitcher with the tying run on second base."
That hitter, Daniel Murphy, ultimately hit a popup that fell in for a game-tying error. But Collins acknowledged that the move had plenty to do with Buck, who finished 0-for-4 with four strikeouts Wednesday and has one hit in his last 22 at-bats.
Because Buck is a veteran and an everyday player, Collins made a point to approach him earlier in the ninth and explain the situation.
"I don't expect him to like it," the manager said. "I'm fine with that. I have no issues with him. But I had to make that decision, so I went with Murph."
Mets spot Wheeler pitch-tipping issue
CHICAGO -- It did not take long for Mets manager Terry Collins' cell phone to light up with messages about Zack Wheeler. By the end of Tuesday's game, seemingly everyone was chiming in with evidence that in his second career start, Wheeler tipped his pitches.
"I'm not on Twitter, but I do have an e-mail address and I do get texts." Collins said. "So I got a little indication he might be tipping."
The Mets actually diagnosed the issue themselves, noting that Wheeler was altering his delivery for offspeed pitches. But they refrained from making in-game corrections, wary that Wheeler might overcompensate and have command issues as a result.
Pitching coach Dan Warthen originally sensed that Wheeler also had the issue during his Major League debut in Atlanta, but the rookie's sharp fastball command kept the Braves off balance anyway. That was not the case Tuesday, when the White Sox laid off his bad pitches and jumped on his mistakes.
"I don't know if it's just this level or just last night, but they were laying of a lot of sliders that I thought were good pitches," Wheeler said. "Some of them they probably would have laid off anyway, but some of them I thought were good pitches that they laid off. It's an easy fix. We'll get it fixed before next start."
That process started Tuesday afternoon, when catcher John Buck took Wheeler aside for a more general chat about his first two outings. Warthen plans to work with the rookie during his between-starts bullpen session, hoping to iron out what Wheeler believes should be an easy fix.
"I was totally unaware of it," Wheeler said. "I've never done it before. I haven't seen video or anything of last night so I really don't know what I was doing, but I'll try to fix it."
Hesitant to use the pitch tipping as an excuse for the four runs he gave up in 5 1/3 innings, Wheeler saw the issue more as a reality check.
"This little stuff, guys take advantage up here," Wheeler said. "They're up here for a reason, so they're going to take advantage of every little thing. They're going to pick you apart. It's a little bit tougher up here."
Mets will shuffle if Harvey is asked to start All-Star Game
CHICAGO -- If the Mets need to shuffle their rotation around to allow Matt Harvey to start the All-Star Game at Citi Field, they are more than willing to do it.
Harvey is currently scheduled to start the Mets' first-half finale on July 14, which would all but preclude him from pitching in the Midsummer Classic the July 16. All-Star starters traditionally pitch multiple innings, and MLB rules prohibit those who started on the final day of the first half from throwing more than one inning in the All-Star Game.
That could generate a sticky situation for Harvey, who leads the National League in strikeouts and ERA. But thanks to an off-day on July 11, the Mets could start Harvey on regular rest July 13, allowing him to pitch multiple innings in the All-Star Game.
"I don't think there's any question," Collins said when asked if the Mets would alter Harvey's schedule. "We can certainly make some adjustments."
Some teams have grown wary of pushing their aces too hard around the All-Star Game, and the Mets are no exception. But they also understand the gravity of what an All-Star start at Citi Field would mean to Harvey, his team and his fans.
"It might be the only time in your whole life you ever get the opportunity to," Collins said, before correcting himself. "My guess is this guy's going to get a lot of chances to pitch in All-Star Games."
• Third baseman David Wright will receive a routine day off Thursday in Denver, manager Terry Collins said. Wright has appeared in all 74 of the Mets' games this season.
• As the Mets embark on an unusual itinerary this week, traveling from Chicago to Denver back to Queens, several players had their own travel plans. The Mets tried to send Thursday's starting pitcher, Jeremy Hefner, ahead to Denver before Wednesday's game, but flight delays prompted him to take the team charter instead. They also cleared Friday and Saturday's starters, Matt Harvey and Dillon Gee, to skip the Denver trip and fly straight to New York.
• Shortstop Ruben Tejada, on the disabled list since May 30 with a strained right quad, is scheduled to begin a Minor League rehab assignment this week. That puts Tejada in line to return to the Mets at some point in July.
• Dwight Gooden is hosting a Q&A session with fans this Friday at Citi Field beginning at 5:45 p.m. ET. Tickets, which are $99 and available on Mets.com, include a signed copy of Gooden's new book, "Doc: A Memoir."