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Latest test for Pelfrey involves his fastball and sinker

LOS ANGELES - Manager Jerry Manuel said he is "anxious, not nervous" about Mike Pelfrey's start Saturday against the Dodgers. But given the importance of Pelfrey to his rotation, and the welfare of the Mets in general, no one would blame Manuel if the manager had difficulty sleeping Friday night.

Pelfrey had the shortest outing of his career Monday when he allowed seven hits and six runs in 11/3 innings in the Mets' 13-2 loss to Arizona. He threw 74 pitches, 51 in the first inning. That capped a four-start streak in which Pelfrey is 0-3 with a 12.89 ERA, and he has failed to finish the fifth inning each time.

Afterward, Manuel and pitching coach Dan Warthen stressed the need for Pelfrey to re-establish his fastball, to become more of a sinkerball pitcher again. Now the Mets will see if Pelfrey can transform those words into action.

"I feel very good about that," Manuel said. "I think that the sign will be if there are fly-ball outs or ground-ball outs, or ground-ball base hits. If that's his undoing, we know we're on the right track. If it's not, and balls are going out of the park as a result of trying to sink the ball, then we got issues."

Perhaps it's a good sign that Pelfrey's mood seemed largely unaffected this week. The pitcher had his head shaved and remained pretty upbeat in the belief that this problem should be an "easy fix" for him.

"This week, I threw the best bullpen I've had in a long time," Pelfrey said. "I've prepared myself to go out there and do well."

Mets see Takahashi in pen

Despite Hisanori Takahashi's impressive start Thursday, when he held the Dodgers to three hits and two runs in seven innings, the Mets' best option for him remains as a reliever, a team official said. Takahashi is expected to make his next start, but that has not stopped the Mets from seeking an alternative, either in-house or via a trade. Takahashi changed his game plan Thursday, using his fastball inside more as a purpose pitch to keep hitters off the plate rather than throwing it for strikes. He also used his "shuuto," the Japanese version of a screwball, more effectively on the outside edge of the plate.


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