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03/14/09 1:26 PM ET

Astros lose Nieve to Mets on waivers

Right-hander was candidate to be Houston's fifth starter

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Fernando Nieve first joined the Astros' organization as a 16-year-old nearly a decade ago, but at no point did he stay healthy enough or pitch well enough to become a mainstay on the Major League level.

Saturday morning, Nieve's tenure with the Astros came to a close when the Mets claimed him off irrevocable waivers.

Nieve, 26, was a candidate for the fifth starter job entering Spring Training this year, but his performance all but eliminated him from consideration. The right-hander allowed six earned runs over 4 2/3 innings for an 11.57 ERA, spanning three outings (two starts).

Nieve signed as a non-drafted free agent in May 1999 and made his Major League debut in 2006. He made a total of 51 appearances in the big leagues over parts of the '06 and '08 seasons, compiling a 3-4 record and a 4.63 ERA.

Nieve was hampered by injuries in recent years, including an elbow problem that required surgery and kept him out for all but five games in 2007.

Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.