Mets' Familia Brings Heat On And Off The Field





NEW YORK—When talk turns to righthander Jeurys Familia, the conversation almost always centers on heat.

But the last few weeks it's been a different sort than Familia's fastball that bursts toward the plate at about 100 mph. No, this time it was the sort emanating from the kitchen stove.

Familia was shut down for nearly three weeks after he burned his left, non-pitching, hand while cooking for himself. He returned to the mound for high Class A St. Lucie on May 16 with a three-inning appearance.

Like Jenrry Mejia, who made the big league roster out of spring training, Familia has impressed the Mets with his arm and with his smarts. Also like Mejia, Familia signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2007.

"He's a different kind of a guy than Mejia as a pitcher," field coordinator Terry Collins said. "Whereas Mejia has that breaking ball—a little slider—(Familia) is working on a changeup, and he's got a decent curve.

"But they are very similar guys. Mejia has a maturity. So does Jeurys, absolutely. He wants it. He works his butt off. Even this little injury, he bounced right back. He was throwing two days later. He kept himself in shape. He's a first-class kid."

The 20-year-old Familia was 0-1, 6.08 through six starts, with 26 strikeouts and 15 walks in 27 innings. But the numbers that do impress are his radar-gun readings.

Because of Familia's compact delivery, the ball seems to explode out of his hand. He has become something of an Internet legend with reports of him hitting 104 mph.

"Right now, he touches 96, but he was throwing 97 in spring training," Collins said. "He's pretty impressive. If he throws strikes—that's what we've got to get him to do—he can pitch in the big leagues. He's got a power arm (and) a power breaking ball."

METAMORPHOSES

• Lefthander Steve Matz, 19, had Tommy John surgery on May 18, knocking him out for the season and putting him on track to make his pro debut late in 2011. A second-round pick last year, he signed at the deadline for an above-slot $895,000 bonus.

• The Mets signed veteran first baseman Val Pascucci and assigned him Triple-A Buffalo, where he teamed with third baseman Mike Hessman, the active minor league leader for home runs with 325. Pascucci is no slouch—he checks in at No. 10 on that list with 196.