MONTREAL -- The only thing holding right-hander Jenrry Mejia back from a job in the Mets' rotation may be his health.
Mejia on Friday added a right forearm contusion to his list of ailments after Blue Jays infielder Ryan Goins struck him with a comebacker to lead off the fifth. Though Mejia popped back to his feet immediately after the ball struck him, he walked slowly off the field as a welt surfaced on his arm. He went to a local hospital after the game for X-rays.
"When I walked out there, I don't think I've seen a lump pop up on a guy's arm quite so fast," manager Terry Collins said. "He got hit pretty good."
Mejia had entered the game nursing a bunion on his right foot, an injury that Collins hinted could cost him his roster spot. Certainly, performance alone will not. Giving up one run in four-plus innings on Friday, Mejia lowered his spring ERA to 2.70.
"Every time it seems like things are going good, something pops up for him," Collins said, referencing Mejia's history of elbow and shoulder problems. "But we'll wait until tomorrow to see how he feels."
With Opening Day rapidly approaching, the injuries are coming at a most inopportune time for Mejia, who had been on track to land a roster spot thanks partly to a technicality. Because the Mets are uncertain of Jon Niese's health and would be unable to recall Mejia for 10 days if they optioned him to Triple-A Las Vegas, they were considering starting Mejia over Daisuke Matsuzaka on April 4. That would allow them to slot Matsuzaka in place of Niese on April 6 should the soreness in the latter's left elbow linger longer than expected.
But if Mejia is not healthy himself, the Mets will almost certainly turn to Matsuzaka, who will start on Saturday in Montreal. The early favorite to win the fifth starter's job, Matsuzaka is 1-1 with a 3.86 ERA this spring.
"If [Mejia's] going to be out, we'll have to make some adjustments here fast," Collins said, noting that reliever John Lannan is stretched out enough to start in a pinch. "One thing we're very, very lucky to have right now is some depth."
As for Niese, the left-hander felt no discomfort after making 45 throws from 90 feet in a bullpen session on Thursday, according to Collins. Niese is on track to start in a Minor League game on April 1, which should determine his readiness for April 6.