Mets ace Matt Harvey captured the attention of the entire baseball world last season. He was one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball until he suffered a UCL tear that will most likely sideline him for the entire 2014 season.
Zack Wheeler hopes to pick up where Harvey left off on the mound. However, he wants everyone to know that while he’s not Harvey off the mound, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have the same desire to excel. The 23-year old Wheeler recently spoke with John Harper of the New York Daily News about this amongst other topics.
“We’re different,’’ Wheeler tells the Daily News. “Everybody expects all of us to love everything about being a star. I’m just laid-back. But I love playing baseball and the attention that comes with it — I guess I just don’t show I love the attention.
“Just because I’m laid-back, people have a perception that I don’t care or whatever. Obviously I do. I’m ready to take the next step. I’m ready to take on (the Harvey role) and everything that comes with it.’’
I think it’s obvious that the two potential aces deal with fame differently. Harvey has embraced it from day one, often being spotted by the media at local sporting events and popular nightlife hotspots. While the laid back Wheeler has kept a low profile, leading some to wonder if he’s “too country” for New York.
“I’m not really country,’’ Wheeler maintains. “Everybody thinks that. My family moved to a country-type area (in Georgia) when I was in eighth grade, and my friends there all had lifter trucks, so I wanted one and I got one with my bonus money.
“But I love New York: bright lights, tall buildings, gorgeous girls. It’s great. People have perceptions about me because I don’t say that much, but they really don’t know me.’’
While Zack expects the comparisons he hopes people understand that what Harvey accomplished doesn’t happen everyday. And should he attain the same level of success, he’s going to do it in his own way.
“I know people expect it,” he said. “Obviously it doesn’t happen that way for everybody. Hopefully it will. I feel like I’ve come a long way the last couple of years with my secondary stuff, my fastball command.
“But just because someone has success doesn’t mean the next person has to be the exact same. There are different personalities, different kinds of people.’’
However, there may be one area of his personal life where Wheeler wouldn’t mind mimicking Harvey.
“I don’t go out that much. Last year I didn’t even go out one time in New York because I was so concentrated on what I was doing, just being called up at the time.
“But we’ll see. If a hot model comes along, so be it. Why not, right?’’
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(Photo credit: Howard Simmons/ NY Daily News)