PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- If Terry Collins had his way, Jenrry Mejia never would have broken camp with the Mets last spring.

"I understood exactly what happened last year, and I certainly don't blame the decision that was made -- I will never second-guess that decision," Collins said. "I, in turn -- as the guy on the other side of the field, from the development side, from what I had heard -- thought he should go start [in the Minors]. They made the decision they thought was right for them. I'll certainly back it up and support it, but I think Jenrry Mejia has a chance ... to be a top-of-the-order starting pitcher."

Needing bullpen help and smitten by Mejia's Grapefruit League numbers, the Mets brought Mejia north with them last season in a move similar to the Rangers' strategy with American League Rookie of the Year Award-winning closer Neftali Feliz -- only it didn't work out quite as well. Struggling to throw his secondary pitches for strikes, Mejia proved inconsistent in the bullpen and eventually suffered a right shoulder injury, knocking him back to the Minors for rehab.

The Mets stretched Mejia out as a starter after he recovered, ultimately inserting him into the big league rotation in September.

Now, though, opinion is split on the young right-hander, who ranks among the top pitching prospects in baseball. Some, such as Collins, envision him as an ace starting pitcher. Others, most notably pitching coach Dan Warthen, look at Mejia's whip-like arm action and see him as a closer.

"I think the jury is still out," Collins said. "I don't know who to compare him to, but if he's in as great shape as Roger Clemens, and his delivery gets to be as smooth as Roger Clemens' ... Roger Clemens was pretty violent, too. You've got to have arm speed to throw the ball hard."

Collins has offensive second baseman in mind

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Though Mets skipper Terry Collins has insisted that Luis Castillo, Daniel Murphy, Brad Emaus and Justin Turner are all on equal ground in the second-base competition, he may nonetheless have some preconceived inclinations.

Noting the impressive range of Ike Davis at first base, Collins said Wednesday that he would prefer an offensive-minded second baseman over a defensive star -- a preference that would appear to favor both Murphy and Emaus.

"Second base has become an enormous offensive position," Collins said. "The guys who have played there recently have put up huge numbers. It's become an offensive position, so for me, it's a big piece of the puzzle."

Beato, Isringhausen making cases for inclusion

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Of all the relievers fighting for jobs in camp, perhaps none has impressed Mets brass as quickly as Rule 5 Draft pick Pedro Beato, who continues to showcase an impressive fastball in the mid- to high-90s.

"I see an outstanding arm with a better breaking ball than I heard he had," said manager Terry Collins. "It comes out of his hand pretty easy. I can see why the reports were pretty glowing."

In terms of a roster spot, Beato's advantage comes from the fact that if he does not make the team, the Mets must offer him back to the Orioles for a $25,000 fee.

Also impressing Collins early in camp is Jason Isringhausen, who may win not only a roster spot, but also a job at the back end of the bullpen.

"Never rule out Isringhausen with what he's been doing," Collins said. "His experience alone, you've got to put that in the mix."