Mejia not leaving pen

Jerry Manuel definitively stated there are no plans to send Jenrry Mejia to the minors at some point this season to stretch out for a starting role.

"Not at this point," the manager said.

Manuel reiterated his belief that Mejia's development is not being stunted by relief work because there's a value in facing major league hitters in major league ballparks.

Pitching coach Dan Warthen said the goal is to lengthen Mejia's relief outings in the hope of getting him to log 100 innings during the major league season. Mejia then would be asked to go to winter ball to start to prepare for earning a rotation spot next spring training.

ON REHAB: Ryota Igarashi, who began his rehab assignment on Saturday night with St. Lucie, is schedule to appear again with the Florida State League club on Monday. Igarashi then is due to join Triple-A Buffalo, with appearances likely on Thursday and Friday. After recovering from that work, Igarashi (left hamstring) may be ready to be activated from the disabled list.

Meanwhile, Daniel Murphy is playing in extended spring training games and expects to begin a rehab assignment with St. Lucie after the weekend. Murphy acknowledged he's ticketed for Buffalo afterward to get acclimated to several positions.

ANIMAL SIGHTING: Jeff Francoeur is out of the starting lineup Sunday, and Manuel expects his absence to last only the one game, barring an offensive outburst from Chris Carter on Sunday in his place.

Because Carter is a below-average fielder, center fielder Angel Pagan will shade toward right field more than normal.

"We'll have Angel stand right next to him," Manuel quipped.

As for Carter batting cleanup, between Jason Bay and David Wright, Manuel simply wanted to alternate lefty and righty batters in the lineup.

PENNED IN: Oliver Perez probably would not be available for bullpen duty until Monday because of his pitch count, in his final start Thursday against the Florida Marlins.

NATIONAL DRAW: Manuel would not confirm ESPNNewYork.com's report that Hisanori Takahashi will face the Washington Nationals on Wednesday in Perez's rotation spot.

The manager indicated he would make an announcement Monday, after ensuring Takahashi did not need to be used Sunday.

Manuel did allow, though, that he believed Takahashi's pitch count could reach 80 as a starting pitcher.

HISTORIC COUNT: John Manuel became the first pitcher since Kansas City's Miguel Asencio in 2002 to walk the first three batters he faced on four pitches apiece, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. While Asencio actually walked four straight on four pitches apiece, that came in relief. Elias still was researching the last starting pitcher to do so. Apparently, it's been a while.