PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - Those who watched Jenrry Mejia pitch batting practice Wednesday can understand why former Mets manager Jerry Manuel was seduced into using him in the majors last season. Only 21, Mejia has an overpowering fastball, with movement, and an unshakable confidence to go with it.

But manager Terry Collins - formerly the Mets' minor-league field coordinator - said Wednesday that he believes Mejia is better off beginning the season as a starter at Triple-A Buffalo rather than relieving with the Mets. Period.

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"I understood exactly what happened last year, and I certainly don't blame the decision that was made," Collins said. "I will never second guess that decision. I, in turn, as the guy on the other side of the field, from the development side, from what I had heard, I thought he should go start.

"They made the decision they thought was right for them. I'll certainly back it up and support it. But I think Jenrry Mejia has a chance to be a top-of-the-order starting pitcher, so I'm going to give him his chance.''

 

Extra bases

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Collins reiterated that he sees second base an "enormous offensive position" and believes that Ike Davis' range can help make up any defensive liabilities for the player next to him. As for the rotation, Luis Castillo will play Saturday against the Braves and Daniel Murphy will start Sunday in Orlando . . . Congressman Steve Israel (D-Dix Hills) watched practice with COO Jeff Wilpon. Israel, a huge Mets fans, talked about sitting near President Obama for the State of the Union address, but added, "Standing between Carlos Beltran and David Wright was much cooler.''