This Maine situation is seemingly more complex than we know. I don’t know what it says for clubhouse relations, control of the clubhouse, hiding injuries, actual performance, or all those other immeasurable things. What I do know is that Manuel and Maine are not getting along, Maine has been up and down performance-wise all year, and hasn’t even hit the 91-92 he was hitting post-injury last year.
There is no real way to remove guilt from Maine in this situation. He struggled in his bullpen, supposedly didn’t top 85 mph for the first batter of the time, and bent over in what appeared to be pain after that. He snapped at his manager in the dugout, and was critical of him in post-game discussions with the media.
Manuel and Warthen get plenty of blame here too. It’s their job to make the call, not Maine’s. If it didn’t look right in the bullpen, then it’s their decision to have him make his start or scratch him or whatever they do. They should come up with a plan, with Maine, about what how they’re going forward. Whether that’s one batter, one walk, or one inning. Maine’s job is to go out there and throw the ball to the best of his ability if he’s on the roster.
Is Maine hiding an injury? This would be the biggest issue of all really. Maine’s been a pretty injury prone guy, especially lately. He definitely could be realizing that he’s often feeling a little pain and that if he complained about every little twinge he’d end up spending more time on the disabled list than not. Maybe he’s decided he needs to pitch through a certain amount of pain as a major leaguer, and he did hint at this thought on Thursday after the game. Then there is him bending over on the mound, looking like he was in pain. Maine explains this as knowing he was on a short leash because he saw Valdes warming up in the bullpen already and he was frustrated. Gameday suggests Maine’s fastball was 85 during that batter. Maine claims he looked at the film and that his mechanics were fine and his last two pitches were 89. I don’t know what sort of speed guns or software the Mets (or the Nationals, or wherever he was looking) have, so I certainly don’t know what to make of that.
Both Manuel and Warthen have suggested they believe Maine would pitch through an injury rather than admit one. Warthen used the words ‘habitual liar’ to describe Maine’s attitude about injuries, supposedly meaning it as a positive reflection on his competitiveness, but Maine said that the comment did upset him. Maine made a statement Friday that he would work towards his next start, whenever and wherever that would be. Manuel claims his gut says there is something physically wrong with Maine, but that he “could be wrong.” Maine will get tests next week to tell for sure.
“I want to pitch,” he said. “Even if I have to go out there and throw lefthanded, that’s what I want to do. I want to go out there and pitch.”
Manuel’s response to this was comical, suggesting that maybe he’d have better lefthanded. Jests aside, I’m not sure this is a comment you should make about a player that’s already annoyed at you and frustrated.
The drama obviously continued beyond that. Maine said he wasn’t asked how he felt on the mound, Manuel pulled him and walked away muttering to himself. This is what caused Maine to confront Manuel in the dugout and what he was most upset about. After the game Maine said he hadn’t talked to Manuel and didn’t know why he was pulled from the game. Someone has said that Maine would be going to the doctor Friday, but Maine knew nothing of this. When the team showed up to the park Friday, Maine had neither gone to the doctor nor talked to anyone on the team about doing so. He was placed on the disabled list with “shoulder weakness” and was told he’d be getting tests next week. Elmer Dessens was activated, and didn’t arrive at the park until the 5th inning, which suggests as least that they hadn’t decided anything and weren’t willfully hiding it from John Maine. Maine still insists he’s not injured, so we’ll see what these tests reveal and where the Mets go from there. It’s not like he’s pitched horrendously either. His previous start wasn’t good, but he has a 4.3 ERA with three quality starts going back to his four most recent starts. The Mets are 2-2 in that stretch.
This situation does not make anyone look good. I’m already biased against Jerry Manuel and his poor decisions and management style going back to 2008. I’m frustrated with John Maine, but it’s hard to dislike a guy that works as hard as he does and is as competitive. You can’t ask much more than that from a player; if you want to criticize Omar Minaya for keeping him because you didn’t think he was talented enough, that’s fine, but as long as John Maine (Or Oliver Perez) is a Met, I’m going to root my hardest for them.
Almost 48 hours later, Maine has finally admitted that he’s felt a small amount of pain, similar to what he felt last year, in his shoulder. He still insists he doesn’t need the DL, and that might be true, and maybe he should’ve seen the doctor yesterday instead of Monday, but this does validate Warthen and Manuel a little. However, they could’ve stuck to their guns and not let him make the start if they suspected injury in the bullpen, and they could’ve probably gotten him to a doctor yesterday, and at least waited before putting him on the DL. Mejia needs to go down anyway, and wasn’t available yesterday, so it wouldn’t have hurt to demote him and bring up Dessens and wait a day for Maine’s results.
I have to wonder if this pain is a result of Maine switching his mechanics back to what he’s comfortable with. Obviously what Warthen had him doing this spring and early in the season was not working, but they need to find something that both keeps Maine’s shoulder from hurting, and allows him to be effective. Nothing we’ve seen from Warthen suggests he can do that. I never thought I’d miss Rick Peterson.