NEW YORK -- As if the two perfect innings of relief weren't enough, Jenrry Mejia's post-save celebration -- two hands pointed toward the sky and an emphatic knee lift -- made it clear: His back is just fine.
The right-handed closer made a triumphant return to the mound in the Mets' 3-1 win over the Padres on Sunday, his first game since leaving Thursday's contest with a tight lower back. The club had been taking it day to day, and his appearance Sunday was something of a surprise given that manager Terry Collins suggested that Mejia might land on the disabled list.
"If he can't go today, we have to take a serious look," Collins said Sunday morning. "We're [playing] with a four-pitcher bullpen right now."
Not so. Collins brought Mejia in for the eighth inning, that way if his back locked up again, Jeurys Familia would be available right behind him. Mejia earned a second inning of work when he retired San Diego in short order in his first. It was his second two-inning save of the season and seventh overall.
"They just say I was going to throw just the eighth inning and maybe Familia throw the ninth," Mejia said. "But, you know, I threw just [six] pitches, and they said, 'You feel good to go out there again?' I said, 'I'm good, I feel ready.'
"I knew I wasn't going to be on the DL. I already told [the coaches Saturday] I feel pretty good, so they stretched my back, did treatment. Today I tell Terry and everybody I feel pretty good."
Mejia didn't throw off a mound until Sunday, but when he did, there were no ill effects from the tightness that had been bothering him. Mejia's pregame activity went off without a hitch and set the rest of his day in motion.
"He played catch and said he was fine," Collins said. "In about the sixth inning, [pitching coach Dan Warthen] and I talked about how we were hopefully going to set up the eighth inning. We went to Jenrry and said, 'We're going to have to bring you in earlier than we want to.'"
Tim Healey is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less