Mejia's six-pitch outing impresses Mets

Mejia's six-pitch outing impresses Mets

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- After mowing down the Red Sox on just six pitches Wednesday, Jenrry Mejia figured he would head back out to the mound for another inning.

Pitching coach Dan Warthen thought otherwise.

"I said, 'What?'" Mejia recalled.

Warthen told him again that he was done for the day.

"I said 'All right,'" Mejia said. "'Thank you.'"

The Mets should have been thanking him. Mejia's performance, which helped boost the Mets to a 4-2 victory at City of Palms Park, was again impressive -- five fastballs and one curve were all he needed to induce three ground-ball outs in the fifth. Mejia has now allowed merely one run over 8 1/3 Grapefruit League innings, and -- here's the important part -- he hasn't walked a single batter.

"Six pitches, five strikes?" manager Jerry Manuel said. "That's good for him. It's very, very encouraging to see a young pitcher that has struggled with command and control come into big league camp and throw the amount of strikes that he's thrown. That's impressive."

Not surprisingly, Mejia wants to continue to pitch.

"I was ready for the next inning," he said. "The next inning, I was going to throw a changeup."

There's a good chance it would have been a strike.

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Don't read too much into the fact, however, that the Mets have now reduced Mejia's workload in three consecutive outings. Though Manuel has publicly stated his desire to have Mejia start the year in the bullpen, the right-hander is receiving less Grapefruit League work simply because at this point in spring, there aren't enough innings to go around. By this stage of Spring Training, teams have usually already demoted their top prospects back to the Minors.

But Manuel doesn't mind keeping Mejia around by limiting workload in March, knowing that if he does not make the team as a reliever, Mejia can always stretch himself out in the Minors this summer.

His future is likely in the rotation, "but we like what we see in the role that we see it," Manuel said.

And Mejia, who has stated in recent weeks that he feels ready to pitch in the big leagues, will be happy to make the team in whatever way he can.

"If I make the big leagues, I can pitch as a starter or a reliever," Mejia said. "I'm ready for whatever they want me to do."

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.