Familia emotional after learning of Mejia's suspension
ATLANTA -- In addition to being the man subbing for suspended Mets pitcher Jenrry Mejia at closer, Jeurys Familia is Mejia's closest clubhouse friend. So before breaking the news of Mejia's suspension to the rest of the team on Saturday, manager Terry Collins pulled Familia aside to tell him what had happened.
"Oh, no," came the response.
"They're best friends," Collins said, noting that Familia initially requested not to discuss the situation with the media due to his emotions. "You're talking about two guys that at 7 a.m. in the morning, for six weeks, come out and jog together, and work out together, and come to the ballpark together. When you lose one of your best friends to a situation like he is, he should be [emotional]. I'd be emotional, too."
Collins also pulled aside Bartolo Colon, one of Mejia's mentors, and David Wright, the Mets' captain, to tell them in advance of the team. All three players, the manager said, were "hurt and disappointed and shocked." Wright in particular was emotional when addressing Mejia's situation late Saturday night, saying the closer "messed up and needs to be punished."
Familia chimed in a day later, adding: "I feel sorry for him and feel bad, but the rule is the rule. And now he's got to pay for it."
"It's obviously disappointing," Wright said. "Not only do you cost yourself 80 games and don't get paid, but you're hurting everyone in here. You're letting down your teammates. And that probably means just as much, if not more, than hurting yourself."
"I really don't want to talk about it because in the moment when it happened, I didn't want to be seen," said Colon, who served a 50-game suspension in 2012 after testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug. "I'm happy that everything's gone. It's in the past. I just wish the guy good luck, and hopefully he'll be ready to go."
Collins indicated that once Mejia does return in July, he may be hesitant to put him back in the closer's role, knowing Mejia would be ineligible for the playoffs if the Mets make it. But those are conversations for another day. As of Sunday morning, Collins had not yet even spoken with his former closer.
Instead, Collins turned to Jerry Blevins and Familia in the ninth inning of his club's 4-3 win over the Braves, asking the former to retire one left-handed batter before the latter shut down the final two. Because Familia is not an established closer, Collins said, he will continue mixing and matching in the ninth inning going forward, even if that means Blevins or another lefty steals some saves from Familia.
"I'm just always going out there trying to do my job," Familia said. "Whatever position they put me in the game, I'm just going out there and trying to do my job."