WASHINGTON - For the second straight season, the Mets may have lost their closer on Opening Day.
Jenrry Mejia could not get his elbow loose while warming up for the ninth inning of Monday's 3-1 victory over the Nationals and likely will get an MRI on Tuesday.
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"We're wearing out the MRI machine -- and paying for it," general manager Sandy Alderson said.
Mejia is scheduled to fly to New York on Tuesday to be examined by Dr. David Altchek at the Hospital for Special Surgery.
Alderson had no immediate word on the severity of Mejia's injury and the righthander was too upset to speak with reporters. Manager Terry Collins said Mejia felt "stiffness" and "pain" while trying to warm up.
"He threw a number of pitches [in the bullpen] and finally told [bullpen coach Ricky Bones] his elbow was stiff," Collins said. "Couldn't get it loose. He's had elbow issues in the past. We had to shut him down."
Collins had to mix and match the ninth with Jerry Blevins and Buddy Carlyle, with the latter earning his first career save.
Last season, Bobby Parnell was lost for the season after pitching on Opening Day against the Nationals. Parnell had Tommy John surgery and hopes to return soon, but he is not a candidate for an immediate call-up, Alderson said. Neither is Vic Black, who is working his way back from shoulder weakness.
Jeurys Familia, who struck out two in a perfect eighth inning, would close in Mejia's absence, Collins said, and rookie Rafael Montero could move up to a more prominent role.
Mejia has had elbow trouble before. He had Tommy John surgery in 2011 and surgery to remove a bone spur in 2013.
Collins said he had no indication that Mejia was hurting until he called on him to pitch the ninth.
"He pitched [Friday] in Texas," Collins said. "He got himself two days off to prepare him for tonight. We certainly weren't aware of it."
If Mejia has to go on the disabled list, the Mets likely will call up Zack Thornton or Erik Goeddel, righthanders who were among the last cuts from spring training. Alderson said he plans to stay with eight relievers and four bench players.
It certainly helped to have extra relievers Monday. With Mejia unavailable and Carlos Torres and Familia already having been used, Collins called on lefthander Blevins, formerly of the Nationals, to start the ninth against Bryce Harper. Blevins got Harper to line out to right.
Carlyle, 37, came on to retire Ryan Zimmerman and Wilson Ramos on grounders to short for his first career save in his 113th relief appearance in a career that began in 1999 with San Diego.
Would the relievers have been used in that order without the injury to Mejia? Said Collins, "Oh, heavens no."