ATLANTA -- The New York Mets should have a new starting pitching option within a month.
Top prospect Jenrry Mejia, whose dazzling Grapefruit League performance prompted the Mets to place him on the Opening Day roster as a reliever, is expected to head to the minors to resume being used as a starting pitcher. That could be timed with R.A. Dickey's activation before Wednesday's start, a team source told ESPNNewYork.com.
The decision is believed to have been affirmed during Monday's meeting at Turner Field that included chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon, GM Omar Minaya, assistant GM John Ricco and manager Jerry Manuel.
The Mets could be facing major rotation issues behind Johan Santana and Mike Pelfrey, so stretching out Mejia for starting work makes sense. Oliver Perez has been dispatched to the bullpen, John Maine -- while largely producing of late -- doesn't have the zip he had in 2007 and Jon Niese has a mild right hamstring strain.
It will take Mejia some time to be ready to return to the majors in a starting capacity. It should, in fact, be comparable to a spring-training build-up, when a pitcher throws two innings, then three innings and so on until he's up to a 90- to 100-pitch count.
Mejia is 0-2 with a 2.60 ERA, with 14 strikeouts and eight walks, in 17 1/3 innings spanning 18 major league appearances.
At 20, he is the youngest pitcher in the majors. When he made the Opening Day roster, he became the youngest Mets pitcher to do so since Dwight Gooden in 1984.
Had Mejia remained in the bullpen, he would have been asked to go to winter ball to start, in preparation for earning a rotation spot out of spring training in 2011.
Mejia's secondary pitches -- the ones besides his signature four-seam fastball that acts like a cutter -- remain works in progress.
In nine starts last season with Class A St. Lucie, Mejia went 4-1 with a 1.97 ERA. After a promotion to Double-A Binghamton, he went 0-5 with a 4.47 ERA.