MIAMI -- Jeurys Familia needed just eight pitches Saturday to mow down three Florida Fire Frogs batters in his first Minor League appearance of the season. Pitching for Class A St. Lucie, Familia struck out one, reaching 97 mph according to Mets manager Terry Collins.
The outing marked the first segment of the Mets' plan to ease Familia back into action following his 15-day suspension for violating Major League Baseball's joint domestic violence, sexual assault and child-abuse policy. Familia will appear again on Monday for Double-A Binghamton, then likely once more before the Mets activate him Thursday against the Phillies.
But even once Familia returns, the Mets might not use him at closer immediately. Collins said Sunday that the Mets may first give Familia an outing or two earlier in games to ease him back into action, "just letting him get back out there and get a feel for it."
The Mets' single-season franchise record-holder with 51 saves last season, Familia will be a welcome addition to a Mets team that has leaned heavily on relievers Fernando Salas, Jerry Blevins and Hansel Robles in his absence. Entering Sunday's play, those three all ranked among the 12 most-used relievers in Major League Baseball, with Salas and Blevins tied for the league lead.
Familia is also capable of a significant workload, appearing in more games from 2014-16 than any pitcher in MLB.
"He's a huge piece of our team," Collins said. "This guy was arguably one of the best closers in baseball last year. So to know that he's a few days from returning is something nice to look forward to."
Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.