Opinions split on Mejia's role for Mets in 2011

Opinions split on Mejia's role for Mets in 2011

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- If Terry Collins had his way, Jenrry Mejia never would have broken camp with the Mets last spring.

"I understood exactly what happened last year, and I certainly don't blame the decision that was made -- I will never second-guess that decision," Collins said. "I, in turn -- as the guy on the other side of the field, from the development side, from what I had heard -- thought he should go start [in the Minors]. They made the decision they thought was right for them. I'll certainly back it up and support it, but I think Jenrry Mejia has a chance ... to be a top-of-the-order starting pitcher."

Needing bullpen help and smitten by Mejia's Grapefruit League numbers, the Mets brought Mejia north with them last season in a move similar to the Rangers' strategy with American League Rookie of the Year Award-winning closer Neftali Feliz -- only it didn't work out quite as well. Struggling to throw his secondary pitches for strikes, Mejia proved inconsistent in the bullpen and eventually suffered a right shoulder injury, knocking him back to the Minors for rehab.

The Mets stretched Mejia out as a starter after he recovered, ultimately inserting him into the big league rotation in September.

Now, though, opinion is split on the young right-hander, who ranks among the top pitching prospects in baseball. Some, such as Collins, envision him as an ace starting pitcher. Others, most notably pitching coach Dan Warthen, look at Mejia's whip-like arm action and see him as a closer.

"I think the jury is still out," Collins said. "I don't know who to compare him to, but if he's in as great shape as Roger Clemens, and his delivery gets to be as smooth as Roger Clemens' ... Roger Clemens was pretty violent, too. You've got to have arm speed to throw the ball hard."