NEW YORK -- Jenrry Mejia will have to wait until next year for another shot at his first major-league win.
The New York Mets' top pitching prospect will miss the remainder of this season with an injury to his right shoulder. The 20-year-old rookie left Wednesday night's start against Pittsburgh in the third inning, and the team said Thursday an MRI exam revealed a strained rhomboid muscle, which is on the inside border of the shoulder blade and attaches to the spine.
Mejia, who was 0-4 with a 4.62 ERA, said he's not too worried about the injury and is confident it will heal with treatment and rest. He hopes to win a spot in New York's starting rotation next spring.
Still, it's the latest bit of bad news for the Mets, depleted by long-term injuries to stars such as Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran, Jason Bay, Johan Santana and Francisco Rodriguez the past two seasons. Mejia is considered a prominent part of their future, and could be in line for a starting role next year if healthy -- especially with Santana likely to be sidelined at the start of the season following shoulder surgery.
Mejia made the big league roster out of spring training this year, earning a spot in the bullpen even though he was a starter in the minors. The right-hander made 30 relief appearances, then was optioned to Double-A Binghamton on June 20 to resume his development as a starter.
He was recalled Sept. 1 from Triple-A Buffalo and made three starts in the majors, losing twice.
After he was sent down, Mejia had a shoulder injury in the minors. But he and pitching coach Dan Warthen both said this problem is different.
"You asked me was I concerned about him starting? No," Mets manager Jerry Manuel said before Thursday night's series finale against the Pirates. "He's a very young guy. He has a tremendous arm, power arm."
The fourth-place Mets hadn't decided how they will fill Mejia's spot in the rotation the rest of the way. The team has two scheduled off days next week.
"We'll probably try to run through the scenarios, see who we can bring back, who we cannot bring back," Manuel said, adding that Oliver Perez is one of the pitchers who could be considered. "We probably won't need it for a while."
Manuel said the Mets might look to limit innings for young starters Mike Pelfrey, Jonathon Niese and Dillon Gee the rest of the way.