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Matsuzaka to back up injured starters

NEW YORK -- Manager Terry Collins announced plans to use recently promoted right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka as injury insurance in case either of his hurting rotation members, Bartolo Colon and Jenrry Mejia, is unable to take his scheduled turn.

Colon was dealing with a back issue during his previous start, in which he was hit hard, as the Angels scored nine runs on 11 hits over five innings. Collins reported that Colon did his normal long-toss session during Thursday's off-day and felt great, so he should be ready for his start against the Braves on Saturday. But Collins did concede that the cool weather could have an impact.

Mejia left his most recent start, in Arizona on Tuesday, with a blister on the middle finger of his right throwing hand. Mejia told reporters afterward that he expected to make his next start, which is scheduled for Monday against the Cardinals, though Collins noted that Mejia would have a throwing session before then.

"If Bartolo's back stiffens up on him, [Matsuzaka] has got to be ready," Collins said. "He'll come tomorrow as if he's going to pitch. If Bart's O.K., he'll need to do the same thing with Jenrry. If his finger flares up today or if he can't throw today or tomorrow, we've got to have a backup plan, and right now Daisuke is our best option."

Matsuzaka allowed just three runs in 12 innings over two starts for Triple-A Las Vegas this month. He has made 123 big league starts, primarily with the Red Sox, before joining the Mets for seven outings late last season. He went 3-3 with a 4.42 ERA and re-signed on a Minor League deal this winter.

Joe Lemire is a contributor to
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