Mejia sent down to Double-A after loss

Mejia sent down to Double-A after loss

NEW YORK -- Mets reliever Jenrry Mejia pitched a scoreless seventh inning against the Yankees in Sunday's 4-0 loss before learning that he would be optioned to Double-A Binghamton after the game.

Most times, a demotion to the Minor Leagues means a player didn't get it done with the big league club, but that isn't necessarily the case for the 20-year-old Mejia.

Instead, Mets manager Jerry Manuel and general manager Omar Minaya plan to stretch out Mejia, who was used only as a reliever this season, and bring him back as a starting pitcher down the road.

"I'm going down, but I don't have to put my head down, because I'm going to continue to work hard," Mejia said. "I don't think they're sending me down because I didn't do my job."

The right-hander struck out 17 batters in 27 2/3 innings while posting a 3.25 ERA and a 1.59 WHIP. He throws his fastball in the mid 90s, but admitted that his secondary pitches need work, something that Minaya felt would have a better chance to develop if he was able to start in Binghamton and thus throw more pitches.

Minaya did not set a time table for Mejia's possible return to the Majors, but didn't rule out a possibility of him being back with the Mets later this year.

"He has a focus, he knows what he wants to do and he knows where he wants to get," Minaya said. "He sees himself as a starter down the line."

Manuel said prior to the game that the plan coming out of Spring Training was to have Mejia contribute as an eighth-inning bridge to closer Francisco Rodriguez, but that never came to be.

Mejia threw only 4 2/3 innings over six appearances in the month of June.

"We felt that the development and the progression had leveled off here," Manuel said. "It was a tremendous experience for him and he did everything we asked, but we felt to get him to the next level he needs to pitch on a regular basis and work on a regular basis."

As a 19-year-old in Class A ball last year, Mejia was dominant for Port St. Lucie, recording a 1.97 ERA in nine starts before being moved up to Binghamton. He made 10 more starts there and raised his strikeouts per nine innings from 7.9 to 9.5, though his ERA was 4.47.

His electric stuff allowed him to make the Major League roster out of Spring Training, and Minaya and Mejia insist that the experience and confidence he gained in the Majors this year was good for his development as a young pitcher.

The organization indicated it will recall Bobby Parnell from Triple-A Buffalo to take Mejia's spot.