IL notes: Mejia working his way back

Mets prospect underwent Tommy John surgery in May 2011

By John Wagner / Special to | June 4, 2012 6:11 AM ET

Don't misunderstand: Jenrry Mejia doesn't think undergoing Tommy John surgery was a good thing.

"Having any surgery is not good," Mejia said. "You don't want to have that. If it was good, everyone would want to have that surgery, right?"

But the 22-year-old right-hander, one of the top pitching prospects in the Mets organization, feels he has become a better pitcher since having surgery in May 2011.

"I feel I have better concentration now," Mejia said. "I'm throwing all of my pitches for strikes. Last year, when I came back, I didn't feel like I feel now.

"I feel my changeup is pretty good right now and my curve is getting better. I feel better than I did before the surgery."

So far. the results have been good for Mejia, who has quickly advanced to Buffalo's rotation. He had a 2.45 ERA in two starts for Class A Advanced St. Lucie, then hit a bump at Double-A Binghamton -- he had a 5.63 ERA in two starts there -- but rebounded with a strong effort in his first start for the Bisons.

Mejia pitched six impressive innings against Columbus, allowing two hits and a walk with a pair of strikeouts.

It looks to be another upswing in the roller-coaster career of Mejia, who earned a spot on the Mets' 2010 Opening Day roster at age 20 but also has battled injuries to his finger (2009) and shoulder (2010). Neither of those injuries compared to the Tommy John diagnosis he received last year.

"Last year, I was sad because Tommy John surgery is a bad operation. Nobody wants that," Mejia said. "After that, the only thing I could do was keep working hard and get better.

"The only thing I wanted to do [after the surgery] was concentrate on working hard. I didn't put my head down."

Bisons manager Wally Backman said Mejia has shown plenty in his return to Buffalo, a team for which he pitched briefly in both 2010 and 2011.

"He's a power pitcher who showed in his first start here that he can pitch to both sides of the plate," Backman said. "He has a power breaking ball and a good changeup.

"To me, he's on the fast track to get back up to the Major Leagues."

Backman said Mejia was limited to 80 pitches in his first start -- he threw only 68 over six innings -- and that he will remain on a pitch count for the near future.

"I think his arm strength is close to being back right now," Backman said. "He has come back from this surgery very quickly, quicker than most [pitchers].

"We want to keep him on a regular work load. What is in store for him in the big leagues has yet to be shown."

Should Mejia be used in relief or as a starter when he returns to the Mets?

"I think he can fit in both roles, depending on the needs at the Major League level," Backman said. "To me, from what I've seen, I think he can do both."

Mejia said his focus isn't on how he will be used in the big leagues but rather on doing the work he needs to get back there.

"Right now, I feel 100 percent," he said. "I am concentrating on the future, not the past. I just want to keep doing what I'm doing, just doing my job."

In brief

Struggling at the plate: Columbus went 13-11 in April, largely because of a strong offense that posted a .287 batting average -- best in the IL -- and scored 4.9 runs per game. When the offense began to struggle in May, so did the Clippers: Columbus hit .236 last month and posted a 12-17 record. Of the 20 players who had a plate appearance for the Clippers in May, seven hit below the Mendoza line, including C Luke Carlin (.105 in 12 games), 1B Beau Mills (.156 in 19 games) and C Matt Pagnozzi (.178 in 15 games).

Figuring it out? The prospect status of SS Jose Iglesias took a hit after he batted .235 in 101 games for Pawtucket last season. This April, it seemed to be more of the same for Iglesias, who hit .200 in 22 games. In May, however, Iglesias started to click with a .341 average in 20 games. He's raised his average to .269 with a homer, 14 RBIs and 23 runs scored.

He said it: "I knew it was deep [to center field], and I saw the hop it took. ... I'm not real fast, but since it's so far out there, I decided to go for it." -- Indianapolis 1B Jeff Clement to the Indianapolis Star on June 2. He tripled on his final at-bat to hit for the cycle in the Indians' 7-3 win over Syracuse.

He said it, Part II: "It's just the way I am. [I just wanted] to get back here and get back to the ballpark and get with the guys and get going and get it rolling again. ... There are a couple ways you can go about this: You can feel sorry for yourself and all that or you can come out here and do what you are supposed to and play hard and work hard and get back up there." -- Gwinnett SS Tyler Pastornicky to the Gwinnett Daily Post on May 30. He reported to the G-Braves quickly after he was optioned to Triple-A by Atlanta rather than taking the 72 hours to which he was entitled.

John Wagner is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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