NEW YORK -- With few other options, Mets manager Jerry Manuel may begin turning to Ryota Igarashi once again in high-leverage relief situations.

Though Elmer Dessens remains Manuel's preferred right-handed option in the late innings of close games, Igarashi pushed his way up the depth chart with a strong outing Saturday at Yankee Stadium. After a leadoff walk and Angel Pagan's misplay in center field put two men on with no outs, Igarashi retired the next three Yankees to complete his scoreless inning.

Now, Manuel will look for Igarashi to repeat the trick with a late lead.

"I wouldn't be afraid to use him," Manuel said.

Igarashi, the club's primary right-handed setup man before landing on the disabled list in late April, saw his Saturday outing in a similar light.

"It's a great opportunity to build on," Igarashi said through his interpreter. "I need to get momentum going for myself and obviously without good results, you're not going to gain trust. I need to get the job done."

Mejia sent down to Double-A after loss

NEW YORK -- Mets reliever Jenrry Mejia pitched a scoreless seventh inning against the Yankees in Sunday's 4-0 loss before learning that he would be optioned to Double-A Binghamton after the game.

Most times, a demotion to the Minor Leagues means a player didn't get it done with the big league club, but that isn't necessarily the case for the 20-year-old Mejia.

Instead, Mets manager Jerry Manuel and general manager Omar Minaya plan to stretch out Mejia, who was used only as a reliever this season, and bring him back as a starting pitcher down the road.

"I'm going down, but I don't have to put my head down, because I'm going to continue to work hard," Mejia said. "I don't think they're sending me down because I didn't do my job."

The right-hander struck out 17 batters in 27 2/3 innings while posting a 3.25 ERA and a 1.59 WHIP. He throws his fastball in the mid 90s, but admitted that his secondary pitches need work, something that Minaya felt would have a better chance to develop if he was able to start in Binghamton and thus throw more pitches.

Minaya did not set a time table for Mejia's possible return to the Majors, but didn't rule out a possibility of him being back with the Mets later this year.

"He has a focus, he knows what he wants to do and he knows where he wants to get," Minaya said. "He sees himself as a starter down the line."

Manuel said prior to the game that the plan coming out of Spring Training was to have Mejia contribute as an eighth-inning bridge to closer Francisco Rodriguez, but that never came to be.

Mejia threw only 4 2/3 innings over six appearances in the month of June.

"We felt that the development and the progression had leveled off here," Manuel said. "It was a tremendous experience for him and he did everything we asked, but we felt to get him to the next level he needs to pitch on a regular basis and work on a regular basis."

As a 19-year-old in Class A ball last year, Mejia was dominant for Port St. Lucie, recording a 1.97 ERA in nine starts before being moved up to Binghamton. He made 10 more starts there and raised his strikeouts per nine innings from 7.9 to 9.5, though his ERA was 4.47.

His electric stuff allowed him to make the Major League roster out of Spring Training, and Minaya and Mejia insist that the experience and confidence he gained in the Majors this year was good for his development as a young pitcher.

The organization indicated it will recall Bobby Parnell from Triple-A Buffalo to take Mejia's spot.

Reevaluation planned for injured Maine

NEW YORK -- Lacking a roster spot for injured starter John Maine, the Mets may no longer need one.

Maine did not emerge from Friday's rehab start fully healthy, according to manager Jerry Manuel, prompting the team to plan a medical reevaluation of Maine on Monday.

"John Maine didn't feel particularly well after the last start," Manuel said. "So what we're doing with him is somewhat of a reevaluation, a day-to-day type of thing. He's not very comfortable with how he's pitching right now. We're going to have to reevaluate the situation."

Throughout a lengthy public discussion of Maine on Saturday, Manuel mentioned nothing about continued concerns regarding his health. Without offering specifics into Maine's condition, he instead addressed the organization's concern for the first time on Sunday morning.

"He just didn't feel right," Manuel said.

Throwing his fastball in the high 80s, Maine needed 88 pitches to complete 4 1/3 innings in his second rehab start, Friday at Triple-A Buffalo. In a postgame interview with the Buffalo News, Maine mentioned no issues regarding his health. He has been on the disabled list since May 21 with right rotator cuff tendinitis.

Maine did not answer a telephone call placed Sunday morning.

Saturday, Manuel said that he would not replace Hisanori Takahashi with Maine in the rotation, and that he did not consider Maine a candidate for the bullpen. The organization, Manuel said, planned to discuss the issue before determining a plan.

Facing a similar situation with Oliver Perez earlier this month, the Mets placed Perez on the disabled list with right knee tendinitis on the morning they needed to make a roster decision. Perez, Manuel said at the time, began complaining of right knee pain the night before.

Even more than Perez, Maine now faces a dim future within the Mets' organization -- especially considering that the rotation has thrived without him.

"You could always use good players," Manuel said. "In the course of 162 games, if they're not here and you're winning, that tells you that you have good depth. And that's important."