Elbow Injury Puts Mejia's Mets Future In Flux





NEW YORK—Everything seemed to be falling into place for righthander Jenrry Mejia for a brief time early this season.

The 21-year-old opened the year with two scoreless starts for Triple-A Buffalo. Then he stumbled for two starts, allowing eight runs in 11 2/3 innings. Then he fell.

Mejia lasted just four innings in his April 29 start, departing with elbow discomfort. An examination by Mets physician Dr. David Altchek revealed a complete tear of the medial collateral ligament in Mejia's right elbow.

The recommendation: season-ending Tommy John surgery. A quick recovery could put Mejia in the mix to return to action as soon as May 2012.

"Any time you lose a prospect like that it hurts," general manager Sandy Alderson said. "I think the fact that he was close to being able to help us—maybe in a significant way, here in New York—that makes it a little more difficult.

"But at the same time, if it was going to go, maybe it's better that it goes now and not three years from now when he's pitching in the big leagues and he's somebody we're absolutely relying on."

Mejia got a taste of the major leagues last year when he made the Opening Day roster as a reliever. He returned from a minor league apprenticeship to start three games for New York in September.

"I saw him pitch in Buffalo (and) saw three plus pitches," said Mets manager Terry Collins, who served as minor league field coordinator last year. "What I wanted him to do was go get command of them.

"I thought if he came up here it could possibly be as a front-line starting pitcher. We had too many guys in the minor leagues last year who thought this guy was going to be a (No.) 1, 2 or 3 starter in the major leagues. I know he'll come back."

Mejia already has endured shoulder trouble and now an MCL tear, leading some to believe he'll be better served with a less-arduous bullpen role.

"I don't think there's any reason to believe that because of Tommy John surgery he won't be able to be a starter," Alderson said.

"With that kind of injury you want to see arm strength, and that comes from throwing more. We'll just wait and see. But I don't think there's any reason to believe that the injury itself will dictate how he's used."

METAMORPHOSES

• Buffalo shortstop Ruben Tejada pushed his season line to .284/.350/.422 through 109 at-bats after a two-week binge included a 20-for-61 (.328) stretch with eight of his nine extra-base hits on the season.

• Double-A Binghamton righthander Brandon Moore notched a 14-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio in consecutive scoreless outings, totaling 15 1/3 innings, in his fourth and fifth starts.