LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Jeremy Hefner grew angry. Then he struck out six in a row.
Cause and effect? Hefner isn't sure. But the Mets could come to appreciate an angrier Hefner, who is in line to enter the rotation if Johan Santana begins the season on the disabled list.
Whiffing the final six batters he faced at Champion Stadium on Friday, Hefner finished with seven strikeouts in five innings of two-run ball against the Braves. That allowed him to salvage an outing that saw him serve booming solo homers to Juan Francisco and Freddie Freeman in the third and fourth innings, respectively.
"I got mad more than anything," Hefner said of his success after the homers. "I was less than thrilled by my performance before then. The ball was up, as evidenced by all the fly balls and hard-hit balls. I'm a guy that has to pound the bottom of the strike zone and get ground balls to be successful."
The grounders never came, but the swings and misses certainly did.
"I tried to pound the strike zone, so whenever guys do that, you tend to get the bats moving a little bit," Hefner said. "Maybe they were a little overaggressive, more so than they normally are."
Hefner's final two strikeouts were of Jason Heyward and Justin Upton, perhaps the two strongest hitters in Atlanta's revamped lineup. It was excellent practice.
"[Hefner] throws a lot of strikes, which is the key," manager Terry Collins said. "They've got a good lineup, so if you make mistakes, you're going to get hurt. But otherwise, he threw the ball very good."
Mets shut down Mejia indefinitely
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Mets have shut down right-hander Jenrry Mejia indefinitely because of tendinitis in his right forearm, though there is no structural damage and the team does not consider the injury serious.
"He's feeling better day by day," manager Terry Collins said, "but he's certainly not going to pitch for a few days."
It has been a rough camp for Mejia, whose arrival from the Dominican Republic was delayed more than a week due to visa issues. The former top prospect appeared in one game, giving up five runs in an inning, then flew to New York for an examination of what turned out to be a hyperactive thyroid.
Mejia returned to Florida and pitched once more, this time firing a scoreless inning of relief, but he will not throw again this weekend as originally scheduled.
As a result of his inactivity, Mejia is sinking down the depth chart. Once considered an option to open the season in the rotation, Mejia was bumped to a likely Minor League role after the Mets signed Shaun Marcum. He has since drifted behind Jeremy Hefner and veteran left-hander Aaron Laffey.
Flores one of three sent to Minor League camp
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Infield prospect Wilmer Flores, who spent this spring working on his defensive versatility, was one of three players sent to Minor League camp on Friday.
A former shortstop who never projected to stick at his natural position, the 21-year-old Flores began playing third base last season and responded with his best offensive year as a pro, hitting .300 with 18 homers in 130 games split between two levels. Following a midseason promotion to Double-A Binghamton, he also began playing second base.
With David Wright entrenched at third for at least the next eight seasons, Flores may need to stick at second to have a future with the Mets. He played there frequently this spring but batted only .176, without an extra-base hit in 17 at-bats.
The Mets on Friday also reassigned infielder Josh Satin and right-handed reliever Carlos Torres to Minor League camp. Satin had been thriving in Grapefruit League play, going 5-for-9 with two doubles and five walks, but with Ike Davis primed for a full season as New York's starting first baseman, Satin's options for playing time were limited.
Torres, a veteran of three big league seasons with the White Sox and Rockies, reported to camp with an outside chance to win a bullpen job, but Grapefruit League play was not kind to him, resulting in an 8.44 ERA over four appearances.
Counting Wright -- who will return to Port St. Lucie, Fla., on Saturday after being diagnosed with a strained intercostal in New York -- the Mets have 42 players in big league camp.
• Second baseman Daniel Murphy (strained right intercostal muscle) played five innings at second base on Friday and served as a pinch-runner during a Minor League game against the Cardinals. The Mets hope that Murphy will be able to fully participate in another Minor League game on Saturday, putting him on track to make his Grapefruit League debut next week.
• Left-hander Johan Santana (weakness in left shoulder) threw off flat ground on Friday from distances of 45 feet and 60 feet as part of his normal throwing progression. There is still no timetable for Santana to advance to a mound.
• The Mets plan to use left-hander Aaron Laffey, who had been working out of the bullpen, as their starter in a Grapefruit League game next week. The Mets hope that stretching out Laffey will give them a measure of rotation insurance, made necessary by the overwhelming likelihood that Santana will open the season on the disabled list.