PHILADELPHIA -- Though the Mets originally expected shortstop Ronny Cedeno to return by Friday, manager Terry Collins backpedaled slightly Wednesday when asked about the specific plan.
"I'd probably like to see him play against a little bit higher competition," Collins said, after Cedeno played nine innings in his third consecutive extended spring game.
That means Cedeno could see time in a Minor League rehab assignment before the Mets activate him. They want to be certain that Cedeno is ready because, as Collins said, "he's not coming back up here to sit the bench." With Ruben Tejada on the disabled list, Cedeno will take over starting shortstop duties until Tejada is ready to return, likely ticketing Jordany Valdespin for the Minors.
Collins keeps Duda on bench against lefty Lee
PHILADELPHIA -- Mets manager Terry Collins raved Tuesday about Lucas Duda's two key hits against left-handed pitchers, including the game-winner vs. Antonio Bastardo. But when it came time to fill out his lineup card Wednesday, Collins rested Duda against Phillies lefty Cliff Lee.
That was less about Duda, and mostly due to Scott Hairston's and Vinny Rottino's strong numbers against lefties. Though Duda is slugging just .281 against left-handers this season, his manager can stomach such a lack of punch if the outfielder's approach at the plate is correct.
"You look at the two at-bats that Lucas had last night," Collins said, referring to Duda's shortened approach against Bastardo and Joe Savery. "He just wanted to put a good swing on the ball, and he drove in two runs with two singles."
Duda said after that game that he felt mostly recovered from the illness that sapped him of his strength -- not to mention 10 pounds -- last week. Duda had been 1-for-13 since that time, before racking up his two late hits against left-handers Tuesday.
"When you look at Lucas, I'm going to go back to the illness," Collins said. "I know he's feeling fine now, but you don't lose the kind of weight he lost without losing a little strength and a little energy."
Collins also gave Kirk Nieuwenhuis a day off against Lee, proceeding with Hairston and Rottino at the corner outfield positions. That meant that second baseman Daniel Murphy slid up to the second spot in the lineup, with Hairston batting cleanup and Rottino fifth.
Mejia starts for St. Lucie Mets, more slated
PHILADELPHIA -- Barely a year removed from his status as the organization's top overall prospect, Jenrry Mejia appeared in an official game Wednesday for the first time in 12 months.
Mejia, who underwent Tommy John surgery on his right elbow last May, gave up two runs in five innings for Class A St. Lucie, striking out one and walking two, while throwing his fastball in the low- to mid-90s. He is scheduled to make three more unofficial Minor League rehab starts, at which point the Mets will reevaluate Mejia's situation.
That should include a discussion of whether he best fits into their plans as a starting pitcher or reliever.
Though Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler and others have since shot past him in terms of star potential, Mejia was not so long ago the organization's unquestioned top overall prospect. He first cracked the Majors as a 20-year-old reliever in 2010, experiencing some initial success before the Mets sent him back down to the Minors to stretch out as a starter. But a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow derailed Mejia early last season.
If nothing else, he is far more likely to contribute than Harvey, Wheeler and Jeurys Familia this season, given that the Mets are committed to seeing consistent dominance from those three in the Minor Leagues before calling them up. Though Harvey and Familia could both crack the big leagues by year's end, Mejia should appear sooner -- by midsummer if all goes according to plan.