ATLANTA -- Jenrry Mejia began the season still rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. He finished his 2012 campaign on the mound at Turner Field.
New York Mets
Making his third start since a September call-up, Mejia surrendered a three-run homer to David Ross and ultimately was charged with four runs in five innings. He is now ticketed to start in winter ball in his native Dominican Republic with Licey, although Terry Collins said the 22-year-old right-hander will be capped at 20 to 25 innings.
Mejia likely is ticketed for relief during his major league career. That may be partly dictated by depth in the starting rotation for the Mets.
Still, Collins agreed that Mejia's showing Sunday in the Mets' 6-2 loss to the Braves offered at least some indication Mejia could provide rotation depth in 2013 if needed -- perhaps at Triple-A Las Vegas if he does not make the Mets' Opening Day bullpen.
"He was impressive enough to know he possibly could be a starter," Collins said. "I think we have to wait until next spring to see where we are, what we need, what kind of depth we have in the rotation. But I can certainly see Jenrry Mejia starting someplace."
Collins said Mejia's sinker -- also known as a two-seamer -- and the natural cutting action on his fastball were sharper Sunday than in his previous starts. Mejia has been working with pitching coach Dan Warthen to regain the proper grip to throw his cutter -- which is actually a standard four-seam fastball that just happens to have cutting movement.
Collins noted that Mejia, if he were to be considered for starting duty, needs to pick up a slower pitch to disrupt hitters' timing. Right now, the manager said, Mejia's breaking ball -- his slowest offering -- can register 88 mph.
"As we get farther down the road, the one thing we've got to get him to have is something that's softer, so they can get off the hard stuff," Collins said.
Regardless, Mejia was pleased Sunday.
"It's all back," Mejia said, contrasting his capabilities now compared with before May 16, 2011 Tommy John surgery. "Today was a lot better because I had my two-seamer. In 2010 I didn't have my two-seamer. I started working on the two-seamer last year. But today I threw my two-seamer better."