Apr 07

April 7.10: Maine says he’s fine; gets start tonight.

There was a time when John Maine was considered a throw-in from Baltimore in the Kris/Anna Benson trade, but his strong showing at the end of the 2006 season and 15 wins in 2007 gave hope he could evolve into a dependable No. 2 starter.

“No. 2, that’s just a number,’’ Maine said. “I just need to get out there, stay healthy and I believe I’ll be fine.’’

Maine had shoulder surgery at the end of the 2008 season and admitted this spring that he rushed himself back last year contributing to his arm problems.

“I learned a lesson,’’ he said.

At 1-3 with a 7.88 ERA in spring training, it’s hard to defend Maine’s performance other than saying the numbers don’t count and he was working on things. Pitching with a migraine and stomach virus, Maine gave up four runs on six hits and four walks in 4 2/3 innings in his exhibition finale against Washington.

(NOTE: Part of juggling the rotation was to avoid the Nationals getting another look at Maine so quickly).

Maine brushed off his performance, saying: “My arm feels fine. Shoulder feels good. That’s the top priority.’’

The numbers haven’t been there, but Maine insists he’s not worried and he’s throwing the ball better than anytime after the 2007 season. He said the ball is just flowing out of his hand.

“I think the last time it came out easy without trying to really force anything was spring training 2008,” Maine said. “I might have been throwing a little harder then, but it’s coming out good.’’

Dec 30

Dec. 30.09: I must admit.

I never thought the Mets would have or could have gotten Jason Bay. I also never thought they should have at the expense of pitching, which is still the team’s top priority. I had Bay returning to the Red Sox and didn’t think the Mets would go as high as potentially $80 million for him. I was surprised they targeted offense first considering the holes in their rotation.

Bay will make them better, and his production will at times overcome the defects of Mike Pelfrey and Oliver Perez. The three-run homer, as Earl Weaver used to say, is baseball’s great eraser.

There are reports the Mets are also close to getting Bengie Molina for two years. I’m against signing a 35-year-old catcher to a two-year deal, but he might be the ticket in turning Perez around. Perhaps there will be a chemistry between the two.