LOS ANGELES - From his toes on up, something has hurt at one point or another for Mets closer Jenrry Mejia.
Bunions limited his mobility for a few days, and once he returned to the mound, it wasn't long before a comebacker left a nasty bruise on his right forearm. All of this happened before the Mets broke camp.
In the regular season, Mejia has been slowed by a blister on his finger, a strained calf, and back spasms that have flared up intermittently. Recently, Mejia revealed that he has been pitching through a sports hernia that will require surgery at season's end.
Nevertheless, the 24-year-old remains available in the bullpen for the Mets, who hope that the talented righthander can get through an entire season without missing significant time.
"I bet if you go back in the last number of years and look, he's missed time in every season," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "And so, for him to have a complete season because he's had a couple of nicks and scrapes and he's got to face hernia surgery at the end of the season, to get through it is still a major accomplishment, I think, for him."
Injuries have left a mark on Mejia's career.
In 2012, Tommy John surgery wiped out his season. In 2013, he spent much of the year battling to regain his footing following the procedure. Before the 2014 season, doctors removed bone chips that were causing pain in Mejia's elbow.
Still, Mejia has flourished this season, when he made the transition from overmatched starter to dominant reliever. Though he hasn't been as sharp of late, Mejia has 18 saves with a 3.10 ERA in 40 appearances out of the bullpen.
But his status for 2015 may hinge on whether he can handle the rigors of a full season.
Said Collins: "The object is to make sure you can get out there a lot. He's had some setbacks due to injuries in the past."
The Mets expect closer Bobby Parnell to complete his rehab from Tommy John surgery as early as May and Collins hinted that the incumbent could slide back into that role.
"When Bobby Parnell comes back," Collins said, "he will be pitching during his rehab as if he's the closer, because that's . . . certainly in our plan when he gets back."
But Collins quickly noted that no decisions are final.
"There's nothing etched in stone because certainly somebody can stand up and show up and say 'OK, I'm going to take that job,' " he said. "And when Bobby's ready, we've got a nice problem on our hands. But looking that far ahead, we certainly can't have any idea who is the guy pitching in the ninth."
For now, Mejia will keep pitching, and there is plenty of incentive. The Mets see value in Mejia completing a season. And because they have had players in recent years postpone hernia surgery to keep pitching, they're comfortable with Mejia attempting to do the same.
Also, Mejia has enough service time to put him close to qualifying for salary arbitration next season, creating a financial reason to keep pitching.
"I think we're cognizant of the fact that he hasn't done this throughout a season," Collins said. "And we're getting into the final six weeks of the season where the wear and tear starts to show in some areas."
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