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 03

March 3.10: Positive reports so far on Perez.

It’s only spring training, and more to the point, it is only throwing off the mound and batting practice in spring training, but the reports so far have been good on Oliver Perez, beginning with his upbeat attitude and showing up in good shape.

PEREZ: Hoping for the best.

Perez spent the offseason working out as a sports institute in Arizona, where he worked on his conditioning and mechanics.

It is the latter where the first spring impression has been the greatest, with Perez throwing with a consistency, from his wind-up to his arm slot to his delivery. The result has been a better command and movement on his pitches. This is also something Sandy Koufax preached to Perez during his visits to Port St. Lucie.

Perez, entering the second season of a three-year contract, is slotted third in the rotation behind Johan Santana and Mike Pelfrey. In 2007, Perez won 15 games for the Mets to give us a glimpse of what could be. The last two years he’s shown more of those glimpses, but all too often gave us the Bad Ollie.

The Mets, thinking of those positive moments, didn’t bite on rotation help this winter, instead believing in the promise of Perez and Pelfrey. So far, the Mets have been pleased with how he’s throwing, but we’ve heard that before.

Spring training is for the promise of better things, and here’s hoping Perez keeps the headscratching to a minimum this year.

Feb 22

Feb. 22.10: Koufax eyeing Perez.

Sandy Koufax is back in camp, taking a special look at Oliver Perez today. There’s something about Koufax. He’s worked with other Mets, and other players, before, and it has translated well. Perhaps it is his demeanor and touch.

Not all great athletes can teach, but Koufax has been able to impart something to others. Well, others have tried with Perez, from Pedro Martinez to Johan Santana, but nothing has stuck. Maybe this time will be different. At least, let’s hope so.

Word is Perez is healthy and in shape after working out at a sports institute in Arizona in the offseason. He’s won 15 games before, so the potential and history is there, but he’s also shown an aptitude for wildness and disaster. Perez is a wild card for the Mets. He does well and the team can be competitive; he does poorly and he can take the Mets down with him.