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Thursday, September 20, 2012
Familia a late look, prep as future closer

By Adam Rubin

While not in a closing role, Jeurys Familia will get late-inning relief appearances in integral spots during the final two weeks of the season. Terry Collins said he came to that resolution with Sandy Alderson during a meeting Thursday.

Familia has nearly exclusively started as a minor leaguer, but the Mets believe he's a candidate to step into closing on days Frank Francisco is unavailable next season. So they want to get him warming up more quickly and pitching in important late spots now.

“[Bullpen coach] Ricky [Bones] said he’s getting better, and I think that’s due to the fact he wants to get in some games,” Collins said. “He’s getting himself ready fast because he wants to get in there. And I will tell you, in my discussion with Sandy today, we’ve got to start putting him in some pretty tough situations. I want to see how he reacts.”

And that's with the intention of potentially using him in games Francisco does not close in 2013. Francisco is signed for $6.5 million next season.

“There’s no question,” Collins said. “I mean, Frankie is the leading guy when he’s healthy. But if something should happen and he goes down, we need to have somebody we know we can rely on. We really like where we’ve got Jon Rauch, we really like where Bobby Parnell is at in his spot in the bullpen. We’d like to find that dynamic guy that can pick it up when Frank is not there. We’re not saying Familia is the guy. But, my gosh, when you see that arm strength plus that movement on the fastball and that really hard-breaking slider, if he can get command of those two pitches, he’s got a chance to be pretty special.”

Ideally, the organization can handle that type of role with a young, internal arm so limited dollars can be allocated elsewhere.

“No doubt,” Collins said. “You always want homegrown as many players as you can, to where then you can go pinpoint guys that fill in the spots that you need to fill in.”