Mar 13

March 13.10: Perez tries to improve vs. Tigers.

The Mets liked that Oliver Perez threw strikes is his first start. It would have been nice if he’d gotten some hitters out. The Mets need to see improvement today from Perez in his start against Detroit.

The Mets’ projected rotation of Johan Santana, Mike Pelfrey, Perez, John Maine and Jon Niese have all worked, with only Maine pitching effectively. But, it’s early and still time for the others to get into a grove.

Perez is coming off a miserable start last Sunday against Washington in which he gave up five runs on seven hits in three innings.

Perez did come out of the start with not problems to his right knee (offseason surgery) and that he threw 33 of 49 pitches for strikes.

Here’s today’s line-up against Detroit:

Angel Pagan, LF
Luis Castillo, 2B
David Wright, 3B
Jason Bay, DH
Daniel Murphy, 1B
Jeff Francoeur, RF
Gary Matthews, CF
Rod Barajas, C
Alex Cora, SS

Perez will be followed by Hisanori Takahashi, Nelson Figueroa, Sean Green and Bobby Parnell. If it works out where innings are available, Jenrry Mejia will pitch.

Mar 11

March 11.10: A plan for Mejia.

Contrary to how they handled Bobby Parnell last season, the Mets seem to have a definitive plan for Jenrry Mejia.

He has been working as a reliever this spring, and that’s what he’ll do for the remainder of camp and in the minor leagues.

Manager Jerry Manuel sees that Mariano Rivera-like movement on his cutter and envisions dominance coming out of the bullpen.

Last year, Parnell was bounced around from being a starter in the minors, to a reliever for the Mets, then a starter and finally back to the pen. After the season he admitted being confused and his confidence shaken.

Mejia is 20 and has been scintillating in his role. It is easy to see how Manuel could be thinking about 94-mph fastball coming out of the bullpen, perhaps as soon as this year. In 5 1/3 scoreless innings he has given up two hits and struck out five with no walks.

It’s that no walks that’s importance. The reviews have been good but the presumption is he’ll open the season in the minor leagues, likely the Class AA level.

That’s the plan now, here’s hoping they stick with it.

Mar 09

March 9.10: Santana hammered.

It wasn’t a good day for Johan Santana, who gave up four runs on six hits in 1 2/3 innings in today’s loss to Houston.

Santana, who is coming off elbow surgery was clocked in the low 90s and reported no discomfort or pain.

“They made me work today,’’ Santana told reporters. “They were swinging right away. But I felt good because I was able to throw all of my pitches.

“I was a little bit off with my mechanics, releasing the ball. That’s part of spring training. That’s what we’re here for, trying to make adjustments and throw all of my pitches. The good thing is I felt good. I didn’t feel any problem in my arm. So that’s good.’’

Also today:

* Mike Pelfrey’s threw today and said his bruised right knee is fine and he’s on for Thursday’s start.

* Francisco Rodriguez threw in the bullpen today. He’ll throw again tomorrow and is scheduled to pitch Saturday.

* Fred Wilpon returned to Port St. Lucie.

* Jenrry Mejia is still turning heads but GM Omar Minaya said he’s still slated for the minor leagues. The Mets are stretching out Mejia’s outings to build up his stamina to be a minor league starter.

Mar 06

March 6.10: What about Kunz?

Mike Pelfrey is pitching this afternoon for the Mets, but I’m more interested today in Eddie Kunz, the guy who was supposed to be the Mets closer after Billy Wagner.

With the bullpen in shambles in 2008, Kunz got a look-see and disappointed. Kunz, 24 next month, also pitched poorly early this week against the Braves, walking three and retiring only one of the six batters he faced. He gave up four runs, and while one outing won’t determine his fate, it has been awhile since we’ve seen something positive from Kunz other than the scouting reports.

“He’s got great stuff,’’ manager Jerry Manuel said. “His ball moves. It’s powerful sink.’’

Yes, the scouting report reads the same as it did when he came out of Oregon State, but the results haven’t been there, and the Mets, a team in need of a bullpen, are moving on without him.

Names are bandied about, and Jenrry Mejia is the flavor of the month, but nobody talks about Kunz anymore.

Spring training is for new beginnings, and for Kunz it could be about last chances.

Jan 08

Jan. 8.10: Looking at the Mets’ prospects.

John Sickels, author of the 2010 Baseball Prospect Book, is high on Fernando Martinez and Jenrry Mejia, but lukewarm with John Niese.

Most scouts believe Mejia has the stuff to be a starter, but needs time in the minor leagues – maybe two more years – to refine his secondary pitches. The worst thing the Mets could do is to push the envelope with him, but that’s the fear, that they will rush him as they did Mike Pelfrey.

Sickels also believes Martinez is being regarded too harshly considering his age, but is concerned about his durability. The acquisition of Jason Bay makes it clear the Mets don’t believe Martinez is ready this year. Perhaps by the end of the year he may have put himself in position to help.

As far as Niese goes, if his hamstring is sound he could help the Mets this season, but Sickels doesn’t see much of a ceiling for him, calling him a “classic number three guy.’’

If you’re highest minor league level pitching prospect is a No. 3, that’s not encouraging.