NEW YORK -- With Jeurys Familia having notched five saves in a six-day span last week, New York Mets manager Terry Collins is ready to declare that Familia will remain the closer once Bobby Parnell returns from a season-opening DL stint.
During the winter, Collins had suggested the closer's job was Parnell's to lose once he returned from Tommy John surgery. Since then, though, Parnell's velocity has been underwhelming in minor league games. And Jenrry Mejia, the closer to begin the season, has been handed an 80-game suspension for a positive performance-enhancing drug test.
Neither Parnell nor Vic Black is imminently expected to be activated from the DL, although Black appears within a week of returning.
"If Bobby Parnell and Vic Black show up tomorrow, Jeurys Familia will still close," Collins said Sunday morning. "It's been a year since Bobby has been out there. If Bobby, when he shows up, shows us the same stuff that we saw a year ago, we will try to get him back in the role he's comfortable with. ... Right now, Jeurys Familia has pitched well enough. He is that guy until those other guys show us they're ready for it if we need to make any changes."
Black will serve in a setup role once he returns, according to the manager.
Collins said he salutes Familia's receptiveness to learning. The coaching staff tried to get Familia to throw up in the zone in spring training to change batters' eye levels from continual sinkers and sliders down in the zone. Although Familia did not become proficient at executing that instruction, he was unshaken by producing a 5.99 Grapefruit League ERA while experimenting.
"He tries to learn," Collins said. "If you look out, he's always with Bartolo [Colon]. He's always learning. He wants to learn. He wants to get better. In spring training, we asked him to try to work on a couple of things, and that's what he did. Due to that effort, he didn't have a very good spring. But we didn't have to go reassure him, because he knew what he could do. He's got strong character, and that's why I think he'll be able to handle this role."