Mejia seamlessly adapting to ninth-inning role
NEW YORK -- When Mets manager Terry Collins gave Jenrry Mejia the keys to the ninth inning earlier this month, he did so with slight reservation. Until Mejia could prove his ability to appear in back-to-back games, and perhaps even in back-to-back-to-back games, Collins was not going to name him the closer.
Two weeks into his audition, Mejia has passed most of those tests. After pitching in both halves of Sunday's doubleheader, Mejia returned two days later to throw two shutout innings against the Pirates.
"I thought [Tuesday] was a perfect example of a guy who has said, 'Hey, look, I'll do what I have to do to help this team,'" Collins said. "The kid just said, 'Give me the ball,' and that's pretty impressive. He's going to take to this pretty easy."
Since the Mets unofficially moved Mejia into the closer's role, the right-hander has given up one unearned run in eight innings, striking out seven and walking three. But the Mets anticipated success from Mejia in his transition from rotation to bullpen; what they were unsure about was his durability. Mejia fueled those worries by speaking openly about his fear of sustaining an arm injury if he pitched too often in relief.
If Mejia still has those fears, he is no longer voicing them. Pitching as often and effectively as Mejia has is giving him new confidence, to the point that both he and Collins believe he is ready to try pitching in three consecutive games.
"Now, I'm ready for any situation that comes up," Mejia said. "I'm ready for everything."