The Mets' plans to trade Jenrry Mejia for a top starter such as Cliff Lee - if they are even willing to give him up - may have taken a hit Sunday when the 20-year-old righthander left his second minor-league start with shoulder stiffness.

Mejia, who was pitching for Double-A Binghamton, went two batters into the second inning before leaving. A Mets spokesman said he expected Mejia to get medical tests last night.

Mejia was sent down to Binghamton on June 20 after starting the season in the Mets' bullpen. He threw 43 pitches yesterday.

Beltran update

Carlos Beltran had a scheduled day off Sunday. Jerry Manuel was asked if Beltran might visit the Mets in his native Puerto Rico for some part of the three-game series against the Marlins that begins Monday. "Oh, no," he said. "For what? He could be playing somewhere, man. He isn't on vacation over there. He can do that all winter."


Pagan update

Angel Pagan missed his fourth straight game with muscle spasms in his right side. Manuel, who initially said he would miss one game, said he expects him back Monday. But Pagan said that's not going to happen and hopes to be available to pinch hit.

Tipping point?

Is Johan Santana tipping his pitches? Manuel said he might have been in the early innings of Saturday's 6-0 loss to the Twins. Santana said he wasn't.

Santana allowed four first-inning runs against his old team before settling down and giving up one in the next five innings. Manuel theorized that the Twins were laying off Santana's signature changeup early, perhaps because they knew it was coming based on the position of Santana's hands before he threw.

"Early on when they were taking the changeup was a big concern," Manuel said. "They were in counts where you expect a fastball. He threw a changeup and they didn't offer at it. When that happens, that concerns me, especially early in a game."

Manuel said that after the first inning, Santana changed his hand position in his setup from up around his chest to down around his midsection.

"After that, he began to get those swings and misses on changeups out of the strike zone, which is what he does," he said.

When asked about tipping pitches, Santana said "no" before walking away.

Santana, a noted second-half pitcher, has lost three of his last four starts and is 5-5 with a 3.55 ERA overall.

"I think that he's going to be fine," Manuel said. "I saw a little more life on the fastball than I've seen in a while. I think a lot of things are headed in the right direction for him."

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