It will be two years to the day since the last time Jenrry Mejia started a game for the New York Mets back on September 15, 2010.
In that game, his third of that season after working mostly in relief, Mejia was removed in the middle of an at-bat in the third inning with a 2-0 count on Andrew McCutchen of the Pirates.
“I saw something was wrong,” catcher Henry Blanco said. “I went out right away. I saw his face. He had a little pain. He said his back was sore. He didn’t feel right.”
Mejia, 20, reacted after throwing a low pitch to McCutchen with one out. The Mets described the injury as an acute strain of a muscle in the back of the right shoulder. The next morning the Mets released a statement that their young righthander and top pitching prospect was being shutdown for the rest of the season with a strained shoulder.
Tonight at Miller Park, Jenrry Mejia will make his first start since that fateful day exactly two years ago.
“I am excited. I want to be a starter and that’s what they want me to do, so I’m excited about it,” Mejia told reporters yesterday. “I want to show them I want to be a starter and I can do my job like a starter.”
Mejia suffered a torn elbow ligament on top of that shoulder strain in 2011. It forced him to undergo Tommy John Surgery to repair his right elbow and of course miss most of last season.
His road back was shorter than anyone could have imagined. He returned to Mets spring training camp this season and was throwing without pain. After some extended spring training, he was back in business, but had an up and down comeback season in the minors. He went 2-3 with a 2.75 ERA in 10 starts for Triple-A Buffalo, and 1-1 with a 5.48 ERA in 16 appearances for them as a reliever.
“I’m anxious to see how he handles it,” Terry Collins said. “He’s healthy again. I’ve seen him start in the minor leagues and I was one guy who thought, ‘Why can’t he start?’ He’s a maximum-effort guy. But there’s no reason why somebody can’t do that.”
It’s the classic case of coming full circle for the still very young Mejia who turns 23 in October. Mejia has yet to pick up his first major league win in 34 career games including those three 2010 starts.
Here’s to a solid start tonight for our one-time top pitching prospect, and the good fortune to pick up his first major league win in the process.