PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - Jenrry Mejia aced his latest bullpen test Tuesday by mowing down the Braves, despite pitching in consecutive games for the first time in his young career. Mejia fired a perfect sixth inning, striking out Matt Diaz, and his fastball repeatedly touched 97.
The Mets had been waiting to use Mejia on back-to-back days, and were careful enough to delay the experiment twice. But their fears turned out to be unfounded as Mejia showed little difficulty with the Atlanta hitters - and pitched better than he did a day earlier against the Nationals.
Jerry Manuel said he was not concerned that the 20-year-old may be straining himself in order to make the Opening Day roster.
"I want to see how he responds with the adrenaline,'' Manuel said. "It was good to see he was able to pitch the way he did today. It was very impressive."
Manuel again insisted Mejia is not a candidate for the vacant eighth-inning job - at least not to begin the season. But Mejia behaves as if he is very comfortable switching to the bullpen after starting in the minors.
"I'm ready for anything," Mejia said. "I'll pitch anywhere."
Ryota Igarashi bounced back from a poor outing Monday to pitch a scoreless inning, and Manuel called him "a strong candidate" for the eighth-inning job . . . Jeff Francoeur crushed a homer to straightaway center in the Mets' 7-6 win . . . Tradition Field became Digital Domain Park when a naming-rights deal took effect Tuesday.