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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Mets News and Notes: Nieuwenhuis update, Mejia's Cutter, Hefner

Mets News and Notes:

The Mets hoped Kirk Nieuwenhuis would be back in a Grapefruit League game Wednesday. Instead, that is now targeted as the first day Nieuwenhuis is scheduled to participate in baseball activity outdoors, Terry Collins indicated.

Nieuwenhuis suffered a bone bruise to his left knee eight days ago on a slide.

Jenrry Mejia beamed after appearing in his first Grapefruit League game in two weeks. He had more to celebrate than his return from inaction after a thyroid issue.

“Now I’ve got my cutter back,” the 23-year-old right-hander said.

Ever since returning from Tommy John surgery early last season, Mejia had seemed to lose the sharp cutting action on his fastball, which once had drawn comparisons to Mariano Rivera’s movement.

Pitching coach Dan Warthen determined Mejia had started to throw too overhand since returning from surgery. So Warthen worked with Mejia over the past week, since Mejia returned from a thyroid issue, to restore a three-quarters arm angle and reinvigorate the cutter.

“I threw too on top,” Mejia said.

The modification appeared to work. Not only was the cutting action better Monday, but Mejia also added velocity.

It already had been abundantly clear, but Terry Collins confirmed Jeremy Hefner is the rotation alternative to Johan Santana.

"We're getting Jeremy Hefner ready," Collins said. "In case Johan can't post, we've got to make sure he's lengthened out, so that we have a guy ready to step in."

Hefner has a 2.61 ERA in 10 1/3 innings spanning four appearances this spring training. He has allowed seven hits and two walks while hitting a batter. Opposing hitters have a .189 average against him.

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