NEW YORK (AP) - The Mets added an experienced arm to their scuffling bullpen Saturday, calling up right-hander David Aardsma from Triple-A Las Vegas.
Prized prospect Zack Wheeler might not be far behind.
New York optioned right-hander Collin McHugh to its top farm team to make room for Aardsma, who saved 69 games for Seattle from 2009-10 before sitting out the 2011 season due to hip and elbow operations. He had Tommy John surgery in July 2011 and made it back to the majors for one game last September with the New York Yankees.
"I feel very good, very happy with my body, where it's at. It's been a long road, but it's worth it," Aardsma said. "Last year I got back but I didn't feel - I feel like I earned it, but not like this. This I felt like I actually had to earn. I had to really fight back and pitch to earn. Last year was more of, OK, you came back. Now it's, all right, now I'm pitching and I made it. It feels great."
The team has not yet announced a target date for Wheeler's big league debut, but it appears likely he will be brought up no later than a June 18 doubleheader in Atlanta.
Wheeler is 4-1 with a 4.14 ERA in 12 starts at Las Vegas, which plays in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. He has 66 strikeouts and 25 walks in 63 innings after getting touched up by Tacoma for four runs and eight hits over 4 2-3 innings Friday night.
"He may be bored, I can't answer that. I'm not there. But when we had our conversations in spring training, one of the things I told him was, `Pitch your way out of there. Don't just wait for the phone to ring. Make the phone ring,"' manager Terry Collins said.
Mets media relations vice president Jay Horwitz recently traveled across the country to meet with Wheeler and prep him on what to expect once he arrives in New York. Expectations are high for the 23-year-old right-hander, who was selected sixth overall in the 2009 draft by San Francisco and traded to the Mets for Carlos Beltran in July 2011.
One reason the club has waited to bring up Wheeler is to make sure it's deep enough into the year that he won't be eligible for salary arbitration until after the 2016 season. He also missed a turn in the Triple-A rotation with inflammation of the AC joint in his right shoulder.
The 31-year-old Aardsma had three saves and a 1.13 ERA in eight games with Las Vegas. He allowed one earned run in eight innings with 11 strikeouts and seven walks.
Aardsma pitched a perfect 12th inning Saturday in his Mets debut, but New York lost to the Miami Marlins 2-1 in 20 innings. After the game, the Mets recalled outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis from Las Vegas and designated outfielder Rick Ankiel for assignment.
Mets relievers began the day with a 4.91 ERA, worst in the majors, and nine blown saves in 19 chances.
Aardsma was cut by the Yankees at the end of spring training and began the season with the Marlins' Triple-A affiliate in New Orleans. He was released by Miami on May 15 and signed a minor league contract with the Mets five days later.
His name is the first one listed alphabetically in major league history.
McHugh was 0-1 with a 10.29 ERA in three games for New York, including one start.
To open a spot for Aardsma on the 40-man roster, the Mets transferred rookie right-hander Jeurys Familia (elbow surgery) from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day DL. He is expected to miss the rest of the season.