Mar 08

March 8.10: Maine goes today.

John Maine isn’t a project the way Mike Pelfrey and Oliver are, but he’s a question nonetheless. When healthy, the Mets have a reasonable idea what to expect from Maine, once considered a throw-in in the Kris Benson with Baltimore.

But, how healthy is Maine?

“It feels fine,’’ Maine said at the start of spring training when asked about his surgically repaired shoulder. “It feels like it did three, four years ago.’’

Three years ago appeared to be a breakout year for Maine, who made 32 starts and went 15-10 with a 3.91 ERA. However, Maine complained of fatigue in his shoulder the following summer and eventually missed his last seven starts because of surgery to remove bone spurs in his shoulder.

Surgery was deemed successful, but by his own admission he rushed his comeback saying “maybe I was trying to make up for lost time.’’

Maine made only 15 starts last season and went 7-6 with a 4.43 ERA. Maine’s biggest problem last year was an inability to amp it up and pitch out of trouble. He came back at the end of the year to show he was recovering, then modified his off-season program by starting later and throwing less.

Today’s start against the Florida Marlins won’t be about getting people out as it will be another test for his shoulder and to see what he might have picked up working with Sandy Koufax earlier this spring.

Koufax had Maine using a longer stride when delivering his fastball and concentrating on working on the inner half of the plate.

When healthy the Mets have a good idea from what to expect from Maine, although the organization believes the potential ceiling is higher with Pelfrey and Perez.

“I think being able to go out there every five days,’’ Maine said when asked the key for a successful season from him. “When I do go out there I generally give the team a chance to win.’’

Here’s the line-up behind Maine:

Angel Pagan CF
Fernando Martinez RF
David Wright 3B
Jason Bay LF
Daniel Murphy 1B
Rod Barajas C
Russ Adams 2B
Ruben Tejada SS
John Maine RP

Mar 08

March 8.10: Reyes tested again today.

Jose Reyes will be examined by doctors in New York today. Reyes has been sidelined with an overactive thyroid condition. There will undoubtedly be speculation the condition is related to being treated by Canadian Dr. Anthony Galea, who is being investigated for the distribution of performance enhancing drugs.

WFAN’s Craig Carton speculated at length about that this morning.

Both Reyes and Carlos Beltran were treated by Galea, but neither have been accused of any wrong doing.

Also reported in camp this morning:

* Still complaining of weakness in his shoulder, reliever Kelvim Escobar has shut it down and it is doubtful he’ll be ready for the start of the season.

* Mike Pelfrey, who was struck on his right knee Saturday, will throw in the bullpen today. There are no indications Pelfrey’s next start or work program will be impacted.

* Francisco Rodriguez, who has been out with pink eye, has been cleared to resume work outs and is back in camp. His condition will prevent him from wearing contact lenses, so it is back to the goggles look he had with the Angels.

* Fernando Tatis is day-to-day with a sore left knee. Nick Evans will be out at least a week with a strained forearm.

* John Maine will start today’s exhibition. More on Maine this morning.

Mar 07

March 7.10: Looking at the day.

PEREZ: Not a good day.

The good news was obvious, the X-Ray on Mike Pelfrey’s right knee was negative and pitcher Hisanori Takahashi struck out six in three innings.

Based on today’s appearance, Jerry Manuel said they’d have to find a spot for him among the 12 pitchers he’d take north. But, that’s based on today.

Today’s real story line was really about Oliver Perez. Manuel has been raving about how he’s been throwing this spring. There were two positive signs in today’s ugly performance, beginning with no pain in his elbow. He gave up five runs on seven hits and a walk in three innings. But, he was around the plate, throwing 33 of 49 pitches for strikes. That’s a positive.

I’ve been critical of Perez, and he does drive you crazy, but I wrote earlier in spring that I would look at the good from him as a bonus.

I suppose another way of saying that is I don’t expect much. That way I can’t be disappointed.

Mar 07

March 7.10: Easy, easy ….

Mike Pelfrey gave up three runs in the second yesterday, and Oliver Perez gave up three runs in the first today. Jerry Manuel said he was pleased with Pelfrey yesterday, citing how he recovered.

I wonder what he’ll say about Perez today?

After all that hard work Perez put in over the winter, it would have been nice for his fragile mindset to get off to a good start this afternoon. This is a guy who more than anybody else on the staff feeds on emotion, both positive and negative.

I can’t bury him, because after all, it is his first start, but it would have been nice to have something positive come out of the day. Maybe if he finishes strong as Pelfrey did yesterday, that will be enough.

Gotta keep a positive thought.

Mar 06

March 6.10: What about Kunz?

Mike Pelfrey is pitching this afternoon for the Mets, but I’m more interested today in Eddie Kunz, the guy who was supposed to be the Mets closer after Billy Wagner.

With the bullpen in shambles in 2008, Kunz got a look-see and disappointed. Kunz, 24 next month, also pitched poorly early this week against the Braves, walking three and retiring only one of the six batters he faced. He gave up four runs, and while one outing won’t determine his fate, it has been awhile since we’ve seen something positive from Kunz other than the scouting reports.

“He’s got great stuff,’’ manager Jerry Manuel said. “His ball moves. It’s powerful sink.’’

Yes, the scouting report reads the same as it did when he came out of Oregon State, but the results haven’t been there, and the Mets, a team in need of a bullpen, are moving on without him.

Names are bandied about, and Jenrry Mejia is the flavor of the month, but nobody talks about Kunz anymore.

Spring training is for new beginnings, and for Kunz it could be about last chances.