According to Manuel, There’s No Reason to Worry

March 25, 2009

“He should be fine,” Mets manager Jerry Manuel said. “I’m not overly or even concerned at this point.” Manuel was responding to questions regarding the state of his right-hander, John Maine. “There comes a time in Spring Training when pitchers hit a lull … usually at this time. Then you pick it back up. … I’m not concerned by what I saw,” he said. Those comments were in response to another one of his starting right-handers, Mike Pelfrey. As you can tell, Manuel doesn’t seem the least bit worried that two-fifths of his starting rotation may have to undergo a crash course in preparation for the regular season.

On Monday, Maine was called in to work on his day off. Pitching Coach Dan Warthen felt that the right-hander was shortening up his stride when delivering his pitches causing him to land too soon. “In the back of his mind, he was afraid to let go,” Warthen said. Maine has been accused of “babying” his arm since coming off of shoulder surgery. Since the beginning of spring training, Maine who will turn 28 in May, has fed the media’s craving for back page storylines with his blunt and often candid interpretation of his pitching performances thus far. His musings have even begun to create doubt in the minds of Mets fans who felt great confidence in their starting rotation heading into this season.

If the uncertainty surrounding Maine’s slow progression towards opening day isn’t cause for alarm, then having Mike Pelfrey’s lower left leg wrapped everyday since March 6th may also be nothing to fret about either. For the time being, it has been viewed as a minor inconvenience and according to Pelfrey will not force him to miss his up-coming scheduled start. “They told me I looked a little tired,” said Pelfrey. In 2008, the young right-hander pitched 200.2 innings. Experts cautioned the Mets coaching staff to keep an eye on him this season just in case the previous year’s workload was too much. Perhaps it’s a little premature to accuse last season’s totals to Pelfrey’s fatigue during spring training but you have to admit, it does make you wonder.

I guess I can’t blame Manuel for maintaining a level of calm. If I was stationed in Port St. Lucie, FL in mid-March with the sun blaring down on me all day and the temperature nearing eighty degrees, I would whistle on my way to work, too.

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