The Mets’ plan for returning to a six-man rotation has been discarded after the team yesterday optioned Jeremy Hefner to Triple-A Las Vegas with the expectation he will be placed on the disabled list today.

Hefner who has struggled in the second half said he’s pitched much of the season with right-elbow discomfort that has become more pronounced recently. He will be examined today at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York. If Hefner is placed on the DL his assignment to Las Vegas is negated.

“I’m hurting the team now and so I needed to say something” said Hefner who has posted a 9.13 ERA in his five starts since the All-Star break. “It’s been fairly manageable the whole year but it started to creep up with a little more intensity of late.”

Hefner who had a 1.76 ERA over seven starts to finish the first half speculated his injury might stem from getting drilled on the right elbow by a Carlos Beltran line drive in spring training.

“Once I get to the 70- or 80-pitch range I’m completely out of gas” Hefner said. “And I don’t feel like I’m as strong as I was.”