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Stiff neck pushes back Pelfrey's start

New York Mets starting pitcher Mike Pelfrey (34)

New York Mets starting pitcher Mike Pelfrey (34) reacts in the dugout after being taken out of the game in the top of the fifth inning against the Atlanta Braves. (July 10, 2010) Photo Credit: Christopher Pasatieri

SAN FRANCISCO - The Mets will have to wait two extra days to see if Mike Pelfrey can start the second half better than he finished the first one. That's because the team decided Friday to move Pelfrey's start from Saturday against the Giants to Monday in Arizona after the pitcher complained of a stiff neck.

Pelfrey said he developed the condition after a 40-minute nap on the flight to San Francisco. Sleeping with his head slumped forward caused what Pelfrey described as a muscle spasm in his upper back, but he still was prepared to pitch Saturday until team officials chose to move his start for precautionary reasons.

"It's much better today than it was [Thursday], but they didn't want me to alter my mechanics and tweak something else," Pelfrey said.

As for switching to Monday against the Diamondbacks, he wasn't too upset by it. "I might have put up a fight if I had to skip a turn," Pelfrey said.

In his final three starts of the first half, Pelfrey was 0-2 with a 10.13 ERA, allowing 33 hits in 131/3 innings.

Perez on horizon?

Oliver Perez will make his fifth rehab start Saturday for Triple-A Buffalo, and his 30-day assignment expires at the end of this month. Even so, the Mets seem no closer to finding a spot for him, either in the rotation or bullpen. When Jerry Manuel was asked Friday if Perez will be given a shot to start upon his return, he shrugged.

"That's a tough question," Manuel said. "I couldn't tell you at this point. Some things would have to happen. We would have to not pitch well. Things would have to happen for that to come to fruition."

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