Zack Wheeler was one of several players to capitalize on the salary windfall of last season, after spending the first part of his MLB career with now-division rival New York Mets, by signing a five-year, $118-million deal with the Philadelphia Phillies.
To make this offseason even better, Wheeler and his wife Dominique discovered they were going to become first-time parents. With their daughter due in July, it’s an occasion Wheeler is adamant he will not miss.
“I am not going to miss the birth of my first child. I don’t care,” Wheeler told NBC10 Friday. “I’m going to be there for her and the birth of my child. That’s a fact. I think anybody would do the same thing. Any dad. Whether I have to come back here (Atlanta) and be with her and miss two more weeks because I have to quarantine to play again, so be it.”
MLB officials this week have begun exploring options to return to playing baseball in a modified format, with teams, staff and essential personnel quarantined in Arizona and Florida.
Among the multitude of challenges to stand up a quarantined league is convincing players to be away from their families for an extended period of time — much longer than an 11-game road trip.
Plus, Wheeler, 29, wants to be around his wife as she enters late-stage pregnancy.
“I want to be here with her during that time,” he said. “It’s something special. You’ll never get to experience that again, the birth of your first child. They are saying your significant other would not be allowed to be with you. That makes no sense to me. If we’re gonna be stuck in quarantine, then why can’t they be stuck with us in quarantine?”
Over his last two seasons with the Mets, Wheeler quieted questions about his durability by making 60 starts with a 3.65 ERA (3.37 FIP) with nearly one strikeout per inning.