He'll start Saturday... doesn't sound like he'll stick initially, but with Lima throwing up a dud tonight, who knows...
NEW YORK -- Mike Pelfrey still has one day to wait before being officially added to the Mets' Major League roster, but his presence was already being felt on Friday, where the team is eager to see how their top pitching prospect responds to the challenge.
Pelfrey, the Mets' first-round selection in the 2005 First-Year Player Draft, will join the Mets on Saturday after being promoted from Double-A Binghamton of the Eastern League, making his debut in the second game of a doubleheader against the Florida Marlins.
A white jersey -- large enough to fit the right-hander's 6-foot-7 frame -- was already hanging in a Shea Stadium locker on Friday, bearing uniform No. 34. Mets manager Willie Randolph said he expected the 22-year-old to handle the assignment well.
"I'm looking forward to it," Randolph said. "Any time you have young talent coming up and you see guys work and show some talent, you can't wait to see that happen for you. I hope he comes up and gives us a nice shot in the arm."
Pelfrey is joining the Mets' rotation in place of right-hander Pedro Martinez, who was placed on the disabled list retroactive to June 29 with a sore right hip.
The Mets have not outlined how long they expect Pelfrey to stay with the Major League club, with general manager Omar Minaya referring to the start as "a taste, [for] now."
Possessing a plus fastball with a developing curveball and changeup, Pelfrey was the ninth overall pick last year out of Wichita State University, where he spent three years as a standout collegiate hurler.
Pelfrey made his professional debut this season with Class A St. Lucie of the Florida State League, making just four starts there before being promoted to Binghamton in late April.
In 12 starts for the B-Mets, Pelfrey was 4-2 with a 2.71 ERA, striking out 77 batters and walking 26 in 66 1/3 innings, allowing 60 hits. In his last start on July 1 at New Hampshire, Pelfrey struck out a career-high 11 in seven innings, notching his fourth victory in his last five starts.
"He's had some good [outings], some not so good," Randolph said. "It's just a matter of seeing for myself. You don't really put a lot of stock into that because it's Double-A."
"The good thing is that he's not coming into a stressful situation," said outfielder Cliff Floyd. "He's not trying to save us."
Mets reliever Henry Owens, who was summoned from the Binghamton club on Thursday when Martinez was placed on the disabled list, has watched Pelfrey most of this season. He said Pelfrey has shown confidence that he is ready for the Major League level.
"He's got electric stuff," Owens said. "When he's commanding it, he's pretty tough to hit. ... He likes to have fun and, at the same time, he's extra competitive."
A member of the Mets' 40-man roster, Pelfrey was present during the Mets' Spring Training camp in Port St. Lucie, Fla. The Mets did not shy away from presenting Pelfrey with tough assignments during the Grapefruit League schedule, testing his mettle in his first professional assignment against the Puerto Rican team in a warmup to the World Baseball Classic.
"I always felt like in Spring Training he had pretty good stuff," Floyd said. "It's just a matter of coming up here and not getting flustered by the situation. He's got to look at it as just a baseball game."
"He seemed like he had a nice presence about himself," Randolph said. "[He had] all the things you like to see in young players, but he was very quiet, also. He just went about his business."
Randolph joked that he "flipped a coin" to decide upon Pelfrey for starting Game 2 of Saturday's twinbill with the Marlins, though the move could allow the Mets to carry an extra reliever during Game 1.
Randolph suggested that Pelfrey will have the added benefit of watching John Maine pitch against Florida on television in the first game of the afternoon, perhaps picking up an extra tip or two for his first big-league assignment.
"I think, if anything, he's headed in the right direction," Floyd said. "Hopefully, he can come up here and give us a quality start, and enjoy the opportunity.
"There's only one first start in the big leagues."
"Trying to hit him was like trying to drink coffee with a fork." - Willie Stargell on Sandy Koufax