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Monday, December 9, 2013
Mejia needs to demonstrate health

By Adam Rubin

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Sandy Alderson said Jenrry Mejia should be a candidate in spring training for a rotation spot behind Jonathon Niese, Zack Wheeler and Dillon Gee. But one question will be whether Mejia can stay healthy.

Mejia, 24, has logged no more than 108 2/3 innings in any of his seven professional seasons. He posted a 2.30 ERA in five starts from July 26 to Aug. 17 last season, but then required surgery to clean out his pitching elbow.

"He demonstrated he could pitch effectively as a major-league starter," Alderson said. "It's a question of can he stay healthy. ... He won't even be able to demonstrate that over the course of spring training or even the first month of the season."

The Mets may fill only one of their two starting-pitching vacancies externally, which would open the door for Mejia to compete for a rotation spot.

Alderson reiterated Monday that he would like his upper-level prospects to open the season in the minors and follow the same promotion track Matt Harvey did in 2012 and Wheeler did this past season. Harvey debuted July 26. Wheeler debuted June 18.

Alderson said that track is not unique to the Mets, citing Michael Wacha's May 30 debut this past season with the St. Louis Cardinals, then demotion after three starts until returning to the majors in mid-August.

"Ideally we'd like to ease guys in," Alderson said. "But these might not be ideal times."