NEW YORK -- The dominance the Mets hoped to see from Zack Wheeler this season has yet to surface at Triple-A Las Vegas. Wheeler walked six batters over 4 1/3 ineffective innings in his fourth start Friday night, giving up four runs in a loss to Sacramento.
"That's a red flag," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "I don't want to see walks from those guys."
With 12 walks in 18 1/3 innings this season, that red flag has surfaced more often than the Mets would like, resulting in a 4.91 ERA and quieting early calls for his promotion to the big leagues. Wheeler walked only 59 batters all year in 2012, earning a late-season promotion from Double-A Binghamton to Triple-A.
"There's got to be a reason for it," Collins said. "He's got good enough stuff that if he pounds the zone, he'll get people out."
Collins had yet to discuss Wheeler's latest outing with Triple-A manager Wally Backman by Saturday morning, but said he planned to. In the interim, he chalked much of Wheeler's early struggles up to the hitter-friendly environment in the desert.
"When you're pitching in Las Vegas, due to the ballpark, sometimes you overthrow because you just don't want to get hit," Collins said. "Sometimes in those parks, guys pitch away from contact because contact means danger in those little parks [where] the ball flies."
Tejada out of lineup, but pinch-hits vs. Nats
NEW YORK -- A day after rolling his right ankle in a botched double play attempt, Ruben Tejada was out of the Mets' starting lineup Saturday against the Nationals. But both Tejada and manager Terry Collins said the shortstop felt well enough to play if needed.
"I'm good," Tejada said. "They made the decision to keep me out of the starting lineup today. But I'm ready if they need me to play defense, pinch-hit, something like that. I'm ready to play."
Tejada did enter the game as a pinch-hitter in the fourth inning and proceeded to draw a walk and score a run.
With Tejada on the bench, Justin Turner started at shortstop for the first time this season, batting leadoff against left-hander Gio Gonzalez.
Tejada rolled his ankle in the seventh inning Friday, attempting to field an errant flip from second baseman Daniel Murphy. He remained on the ground for several moments as trainer Ray Ramirez tended to him, but ultimately stayed in the game.
"He's lucky he didn't break his ankle," Collins said after watching the replay. "I just thought he'd be pretty stiff today. I wanted to get Turner a game anyway, so I just said I'd give him 24 extra hours to get him some treatment and make sure he's ready for the next couple of weeks."
Duda putting up strong April power numbers
NEW YORK -- Lucas Duda entered Saturday's play ranked second in baseball in OPS behind Chris Davis of the Orioles, second in on-base percentage behind Joey Votto of the Reds and fifth in slugging percentage.
Not bad for a hitter whose struggles last summer were so pronounced they resulted in a demotion to the Minors.
"I wouldn't say [I'm] locked in, but I feel good," Duda said Saturday, a day after slugging two home runs in a 7-1 win over the Nationals. "I'm seeing the ball well right now. That's pretty much how you can equate it."
Thanks in large part to Duda's five homers, the Mets have hit at least one home run in eight consecutive home games dating back to last season. Manager Terry Collins attributed some of that power to the team learning how to embrace Citi Field's dimensions, which were adjusted prior to last season.
"When you look out there and you've got an eight-foot wall to hit it over as opposed to a 16-foot wall, it had better change your mindset," Collins said. "It's going to be a little more hitter-friendly. This is still a far ballpark to play in, but we've got some big, strong guys. We're not a ground-ball-hitting team, I can tell you that. And therefore, we're hitting some home runs."
Harvey accumulating impressive statistics
NEW YORK -- A daily dose of Matt Harvey statistics, coming off Friday's 7-1 win over the Nationals:
• In striking out seven batters, Harvey reached 102 strikeouts over his first 14 career starts. The only Mets with more to start their careers were Dwight Gooden (107) and Nolan Ryan (103).
• Harvey is the first pitcher in the Majors to reach four wins. He ranks fifth with a 0.93 ERA and third with 32 strikeouts. The Mets are 4-0 in games he started, and 4-7 in those he did not.
• He is the first pitcher in baseball's modern era (since 1900) to win his first four starts while allowing no more than 10 hits in those four starts combined, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
• Harvey became the first pitcher since Tim Hudson in 2007 to open the season with four straight starts of seven innings or more and one run or fewer, and the first Mets pitcher to do so since Rick Reed in 2000. The last big leaguer with a longer such streak was Fernando Valenzuela, who went seven consecutive games in 1981.