The Mets plan to have Jenrry Mejia work as a starting pitcher at Triple-A Buffalo this season to develop. But pitching coach Dan Warthen ultimately sees Mejia working in a major league bullpen, the role he had last season when he was rushed to the big leagues as a rookie.
"A lot of people, because of his young age, still feel that he's going to be a fairly good starter," Warthen said. "That's why baseball is so interesting. You can have differences of opinion and go on from there."
New York Mets
Warthen's reasoning the bullpen is the likely ultimate destination?
"I think Mejia works really hard to throw the baseball," the pitching coach said. "And I worry about the volume of pitches during the course of a year. You get 30 to 35 starts, and you're throwing 100 pitches each time, every fifth day, I worry. ... You just watch his arm swing. It's a long arm swing. His ball naturally cuts -- again, [like] a Mariano Rivera. If Mariano had to go out there and throw 100 pitches every fifth day, when a ball cuts all the time, instead of staying behind it, I think you find a lot of torque on your elbow and your shoulder. But, again, that's a singular opinion. [Mejia] is a very strong individual."
Warthen did not want to second-guess whether last year's decision to put Mejia in the Mets' bullpen was a selfish decision attepmting to preserve staff jobs at the expense of Mejia's development.
"I'm not going to go there," he said. "I'd just as soon not get in trouble the first day."
Meanwhile, while Warthen technically listed Mejia in the competition for a major league starting role out of spring training, he acknowledged Buffalo is likely in the offing. The pitching coach said Mejia would have to be "spectacular" to get a Mets rotation spot out of camp.
"There were times that I saw Mejia throw last year, as did Terry [Collins], that when his breaking ball and his changeup were working, he can compete with anybody," Warthen said.
Warthen added that Mejia's shoulder issue -- a rhomboid strain by the shoulder blade, which caused him to be shut down late last season, should be behind him.
"He was throwing bullpens all the time," Warthen said about Mejia's winter in the Dominican Republic. "And he's worked out hard. He's big and he's strong, and he's excited to come in. I'm certainly not going to count him out because we have some very qualified people thinking he can be a strong starter."