New York Mets top prospect Zack Wheeler admitted he was "definitely" looking forward to facing the Cardinals' Carlos Beltran for the first time, since the players were swapped in a July 28, 2011, trade.

A pregame introduction with no in-game faceoff will have to suffice for now.

Wheeler was scratched Wednesday from his first career Grapefruit League start with a mild strain of an oblique muscle on his right side, general manager Sandy Alderson announced before the game.

Wheeler, 22, suffered the injury swinging a bat in the cage pregame. The right-hander described the oblique muscle as feeling "a little stiff" and "nothing serious" and suggested he quickly would return to action.

"I'd rather be out one start than two months and be behind the eight-ball when I do come back," Wheeler said. "... Early in the spring you don't want to risk anything. We have a month, or a month and a half, left."