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Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Niese to throw in game soon

By Matt Ehalt

NEW YORK -- Lefty Jon Niese might pitch for the Gulf Coast League Mets this weekend, according to Mets manager Terry Collins. The manager added that Niese most likely will be back in a major league game no later than Aug. 1 as he works his way back from a partially torn rotator cuff.

Niese has been on the disabled list since June 21. Collins said Niese has been throwing bullpen sessions -- a progression from the long tossing he was recently performing. He will need to make several rehab starts before he can return to the Mets' rotation. Niese is 3-6 with a 4.32 ERA.

Carlos Torres has started in Niese's place in the rotation and has done a great job. As a starter, he's 1-0 with a 1.64 ERA spanning 11 innings, which includes Tuesday's winning effort of six innings of one-run ball against Atlanta.

More Mets notes:

WHEELER FINE: Thursday starter Zack Wheeler said he "feels great" as he deals with a blister on his right hand he developed in his last outing against the Phillies.

Wheeler, who lasted just 4 2/3 innings in a no-decision against Philadelphia, said the blister affected his pitches as well as his release point, and he hopes that it's healed heading into his seventh career start.

"It got bigger every inning I was going along," Wheeler said. "Something I've had before so nothing new."

Wheeler has been inconsistent thus far in his professional career, as he's struggled to put together back-to-back solid outings. He entered his last start off perhaps the best start of his career -- a seven-inning, one-run win over the Giants -- but labored against the Phillies. He's 3-1 with a 3.58 ERA.

"You're in the big leagues, you want consistency," Wheeler said. "You're a starting pitcher, you want consistency."

MEJIA EXCITED: Jenrry Mejia is ready to make his season debut in Friday's doubleheader against the Nationals. Collins said Mejia likely will start the first game and Matt Harvey will go in the nightcap.

"Very excited," Mejia said. "They told me yesterday [Tuesday] and I feel pretty happy about that."

Injuries have slowed down Mejia's career. Once of the most hyped prospects in the organization, he had Tommy John surgery in 2011, and spent time on the disabled list this year with elbow inflammation. He's pitched in six minor league games, going 2-0 with a 0.82 ERA in two starts with Double-A Binghamton.

"That's baseball," Mejia said. "You have to keep working hard and keep your head up, not down."

Mejia is 1-6 with a 4.91 ERA in his career, and went 1-2 with a 5.63 ERA for the Mets last year.

INJURY AND PLAYING TIME UPDATES: LaTroy Hawkins is not available tonight and will always be off after two straight days of work. ... Justin Turner will be in the lineup tomorrow, but Collins doesn't know yet if it will be at second or short. ... John Buck will catch Thursday. ... Collins said that lefty Pedro Feliciano "could be in the mix" for a bullpen spot. Feliciano was just promoted to Triple-A Las Vegas. ... Collins said the report he's receiving on lefty Tim Byrdak is that he's feeling fine and his velocity is "pretty good." Byrdak, who has shoulder surgery last year, would also be in the mix if a spot in the bullpen were to open up.