Mets' Matz Makes Successful But Short-Lived Debut





NEW YORK—Following more than two years of injury rehab and recuperation, lefthander Steve Matz finally made his pro debut with Rookie-level Kingsport this summer.

He pitched well for six starts, going 2-1, 1.55 and striking out 34 in 29 innings, but the victory proved to be short-lived when the Mets shut down the 2009 second-rounder—at least temporarily—in August with tightness in his shoulder.

Team officials attributed Matz's condition to his lack of experience pitching on a consistent basis. Minor league field coordinator Dick Scott visited Kingsport a few days after Matz missed his Aug. 2 start, and Matz said he felt better.

"I think really a lot of it was just after-pitching soreness," Scott said. "We're just being cautious. It's the first year he's ever pitched. We want him to make sure he's healthy at the end of the season."

The 21-year-old Matz never has experienced the phenomenon of clear health as a Met. He missed all of 2010-11 with elbow injuries, first having Tommy John surgery in May 2010. A year later, when he could have begun throwing again, he felt tightness in his arm, a product of scar tissue. He missed the entire season.

Matz threw in the low 90s as a senior at Melville High in East Setauket, N.Y., and his changeup and curveball showed promise. With his 6-foot-2 frame, he figured to add bulk and pick up a tad more life on his fastball as he matured.

The trouble, of course, has been getting healthy. Matz didn't appear in any games after signing at the mid-August deadline for $895,000 as the Mets' top pick in 2009. He felt pain in his elbow the following spring, setting him on his current course.

"I think everybody likes what they see coming out of his arm," Scott said. "It's just a matter of him being healthy and getting some time on the mound to develop."

METAMORPHOSES

• The Mets shifted righthander Jenrry Mejia from the Triple-A Buffalo bullpen to the rotation in late July after he ran up a 5.48 ERA and 1.69 WHIP over 16 relief appearances. He's in his first year back from Tommy John surgery.

• Kingsport shortstop Gavin Cecchini, the 12th overall pick in June, broke the bone in the tip of his right middle finger when he was hit by a pitch on Aug. 1. He batted .250/.326/.371 through his first 116 at-bats.