ST. LOUIS -- Top prospect Zack Wheeler is heading to New York this week after all -- though not for the reason Mets fans had hoped.
Wheeler alerted Triple-A Las Vegas trainers on Monday of soreness in his right clavicle and the Mets, in what assistant general manager John Ricco termed a "conservative move," are flying him to New York for tests.
"I think we're being a little bit conservative given who it is," Ricco said.
Both Ricco and manager Terry Collins said they do not consider the injury serious, and that Wheeler should only miss one start. But it comes at a most inopportune time for Wheeler, who had turned around his rocky start to the season by going 2-0 with a 1.35 ERA, 19 strikeouts and three walks over his last three outings.
Both of the Mets' two top prospects will visit New York this week, with catcher Travis d'Arnaud also scheduled for a checkup on his fractured left foot. d'Arnaud is expected to miss at least another month.
Elbow inflammation sends Atchison to DL
ST. LOUIS -- An MRI of Scott Atchison's right elbow revealed no new structural damage, according to Mets assistant general manager John Ricco, though the team will be without Atchison's services for the immediate future.
Hoping that a week of rest and treatment will calm the inflammation in the back of his right elbow, the Mets placed Atchison on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday and recalled right-hander Collin McHugh from Triple-A Las Vegas. The numbness that Atchison felt in Monday's game was caused by a group of bone spurs in his elbow, which irritated a nerve and caused inflammation.
"I think all things being considered, that's some good news," Ricco said.
Atchison, who has been pitching with a torn elbow ligament since at least last season, opted against Tommy John surgery upon first learning of the injury last summer. He hopes to avoid surgery again, despite the presence of bone spurs.
While Atchison recovers, the Mets will replace him in the bullpen with McHugh, who posted eye-popping numbers with Las Vegas. Despite pitching regularly in one of the most hitter-friendly enclaves in all of professional baseball, McHugh produced a 2.74 ERA with 36 strikeouts and nine walks over 49 1/3 innings.
He does not believe the transition to relief work will arrest his momentum.
"Honestly, it's about preparation," McHugh said. "The better you prepare, the better chance you have of succeeding out there. And whether I'm on a starter's schedule or I'm on a reliever's schedule, it doesn't really matter. I'm prepared both ways."
Collins speaks out about Valdespin incident
ST. LOUIS -- Four days after Jordany Valdespin aggravated the Pirates with his home run celebration in the waning moments of a blowout loss, Mets manager Terry Collins said that fans vilifying Valdespin do not understand the situation.
"I don't answer to fans," Collins said. "They don't play this game. They have no idea what goes on. They have no idea what goes on in there. They have absolutely no idea what it means to be a professional teammate at this level.
"I don't care what the perception is. All I know is what goes on here. I've been doing this for 42 years. I don't care what anybody on the outside thinks. I know how to get it done in the clubhouse. I've been doing it a lot longer than a lot of people."
Collins corrected a report alleging that Valdespin attempted to worm his way out of his first pinch-hit appearance the following day, in which Pirates reliever Bryan Morris plunked him with a retaliatory fastball. In reality, Collins said, Valdespin wanted only to avoid a second trip to the plate, with his forearm swelling two innings after Morris hit him.
"He was down in the dumps the other day because he got hit, and he had a tough time understanding why everybody was upset about it," Collins said. "He's better today. He's feeling better today."
• With Ruben Tejada struggling, Mets manager Terry Collins started utility infielder Justin Turner over Tejada at shortstop on Tuesday for the second time this season. It marked the fourth time in six games that Turner has cracked the starting lineup, with two starts at first base and one at second.
• Matt Harvey shrugged off the notion of a Sports Illustrated jinx on Tuesday, after he became the first Mets player to appear on the magazine's cover since Johan Santana in 2008. Harvey appeared under the headline: "The Dark Knight of Gotham."
• The Mets announced Tuesday that they have signed right-handed pitcher Matt Fox to a Minor League deal. A former first-round Draft pick, Fox made four big league appearances with the Twins and Red Sox in 2010. He was 1-0 with a 1.59 ERA in four starts and one relief appearance for York (Pa.) of the Atlantic League, with 18 strikeouts and three walks in 17 innings. Fox will join the rotation at Triple-A Las Vegas.