NEW YORK -- A few lockers down from where Jenrry Mejia was discussing the state of his right arm, Bobby Parnell slipped quietly toward his own stall to begin his Friday night at the ballpark. Since Parnell underwent Tommy John surgery in April, the Mets have cycled through multiple closers, ultimately settling on Mejia.
It remains to be seen whether Mejia can handle the durability requirements of the role, and manager Terry Collins has not officially named him the closer just yet. But the team is rooting for his success.
Where this leaves Parnell remains to be seen. If Mejia takes the closer's job and runs with it, there will be no ninth-inning duties waiting for Parnell when he returns next spring.
"That's how I got in there," Parnell said, referencing how he assumed the job from Frank Francisco when Francisco was injured in the spring of 2013. "Injuries happen, and opportunities arise. As a baseball player, you've got to jump at those opportunities. If Mejia does that, then that's what he was born to do, and that's great.
"I love closing. I want to do it, and I know I can do it, but whatever happens, happens."
Parnell excelled in his first full-time taste of the role last summer, saving 22 games in 26 chances with a 2.16 ERA. But he underwent surgery to replace a herniated disc in his neck in August, lost significant weight and struggled to regain his velocity this spring. After blowing a save on Opening Day, he underwent an MRI that revealed a partially torn MCL in his pitching elbow.
The Mets initially replaced Parnell with Jose Valverde and then Kyle Farnsworth before turning to Mejia last week. Still just 24 years old, Mejia pitched on back-to-back nights on Wednesday and Thursday for the first time in two years, saying on Friday afternoon that he feels "normal."
"I think [Mejia] is relieved," Collins said. "I think he's happy that he feels the way he does. His biggest concern was, 'I've done this and I got hurt, and I don't want to try it again.' I don't think it will be very long before three nights in a row is within reach."
But with every step forward that Mejia takes, it becomes less and less likely that Parnell will ever reclaim his old duties. For now he will simply work on rehabbing his arm back into shape, with plans to fly to Florida next week. He will stay there for the rest of the summer, throwing alongside fellow Tommy John patients Matt Harvey and Jeremy Hefner in an effort to be ready for Opening Day 2015.
What happens after that will unfold in time.
"I know I can do that job," Parnell said. "I know several other people can do that job also. Whatever happens, happens. I'm just focused on getting healthy right now."
d'Arnaud passing every test en route to return
NEW YORK -- On Friday, for the first time since suffering a concussion last week, catcher Travis d'Arnaud stepped onto the Citi Field grass and ran through a series of drills. As manager Terry Collins and a trainer looked on, d'Arnaud performed various conditioning activities and took batting practice.
Team doctors still must clear d'Arnaud to come off the seven-day disabled list, and Major League Baseball must review his medical records, but he has passed every test the Mets have given him, putting him in line for a Minor League rehab assignment by early next week.
d'Arnaud has not played since May 13, when Alfonso Soriano struck him on the top of the helmet with a backswing.
"It took about a week before I started feeling back to my normal self," d'Arnaud said.
Mets name an executive director of communications
NEW YORK -- The Mets have hired Harold Kaufman as executive director of communications, the team announced on Friday. Kaufman will be responsible for "the strategic development and implementation of publicity strategies and tactics to elevate the profile of the organization," according to a team release, serving as the club's primary contact for off-field media coverage.
Kaufman comes to the Mets from The Ehrhardt Group, a public relations and marketing firm in New Orleans. For more than two decades prior to that, he served as vice president of communications for the NBA's Charlotte (and later New Orleans) Hornets.
• Collins indicated that Dillon Gee could miss more than three turns in the rotation because of a strained right lat. In order to come off the disabled list by May 31, Gee would need to throw a bullpen session by Saturday and appear in a Minor League rehab game by Monday. He does not appear ready to do so, meaning Rafael Montero and Jacob deGrom could each receive at least two more starts.
• With Mejia coming off back-to-back outings, Valverde served as the acting closer on Friday. The Mets will continue to use other pitchers in the ninth inning until Mejia proves capable of pitching in three or more consecutive games.
• The Mets will host their seventh annual Military Appreciation Day on Monday, offering military members complimentary tickets to the 1:05 p.m. ET game against the Pirates. Fans with active military ID can receive one day-of-game ticket at any sales window outside the Jackie Robinson Rotunda.