Maine Out to Prove Critics Wrong
(Photo courtesy of http://www.nypost.com via Google Images)
Former New York Met John Maine now healthy and ready to prove himself with the Yankees.
by Josh Horton
Like many athletes, especially pitchers, John Maine doesn’t like to take his foot off the pedal. Sometimes staying full throttle caused him to pitch through some pretty serious pain and he believes cost him some solid years of pitching.
“It’s hard for me to take my foot off of the gas pedal. No matter what hurts, you always want to go out there and pitch. I don’t want people to think I’m not a competitor,” Maine said. “I want to go out there because it is my job and its what I love doing. Until last year, I finally realized that I have never let this thing heal properly. That was the first time I had to pull the reigns back a little.”
Maine was released by the Boston Red Sox on May 10th and now finds himself on the mound for the triple-A club of the Red Sox biggest rivals at Dwyer Field in Batavia, New York with hopes of working his way back to the Big Apple.
“I’m glad I am back to being a starting pitcher. I was with the Red Sox and came to camp there as a reliever and it took a while to get adjusted to it, but you know what I ended up doing it and I was OK at it,” Maine said of his time as reliever. “They didn’t have room, so you know it just didn’t work out. But, I like New York City, I like playing there so its great to try and get back up there.
After suffering through a series of shoulder injuries and undergoing to shoulder surgeries, Maine finally feels as if he is healthy enough to become an effective pitcher yet again. The 31-year-old right-hander just needed a team to take a chance on him.
“It’s tough, you know I’m 31 with two shoulder surgeries. I was always thinking, well is a team going to take a chance, and if they don’t understandably so. It’s been a couple years since I have pitched effectively at all. I wanted to play of course, I love competing and I love playing. But, like I said you understand it’s a business and it’s a gamble so you have to sit there and wait.”
He played the waiting game and it paid off. Now he feels he know what he has to do both physically and mentally to be effective on the bump. Maine feels the biggest part of the physical challenge will be getting his slider to where he wants it to be. In order to do this he will have to break a habit he developed since his two shoulder surgeries.
“For two years I was kind of slinging the ball with a bum shoulder. My arm angle dropped and I threw my slider and it was good then,” Maine said. “Now that my arm angle is a little bit higher, I’m still trying to throw it like I have a bum shoulder. I have to break a bad habit and it’s just a mechanical issue I need to fix.”
Maine’s attitude towards pitching wasn’t always as positive as it is now. Last year, he left the Rockies organization and considered retirement. When he got home, he gave himself two options. The first was to retire and the second was to shut his arm down and let his shoulder heal.
“I gave up a three-run home run to a nine-hole hitter on the last place team and I said if I’m doing this, I shouldn’t be out here,” Maine said. “It’s embarrassing. I mean I know I’m going to give up home runs, but that’s just not my style. I didn’t have that fight and people could tell. I didn’t want to be remembered like that. When it happened, I said I am either done or I just have to let this thing heal.”
Maine now feels his shoulder is entirely healed and is focused on one goal, getting back to the big leagues, even if it is just for one game.
“If it’s just one game I will be so happy, I mean the last couple years people have been telling me it would be so hard to get back to myself pitching and after what I had gone through and what I have done to my shoulder, it’s almost unreachable,” Maine said. “It’s just my goal to get back there for you know one more game, because I put all the hard work in.”
As for how his start today is going to go today, Maine isn’t sure. He does know he will head out to the hill as a healthy pitcher for the first time in a long time.
“I am pretty excited, because for the first time in a while, I am actually going out there healthy. I’m not saying it’s definitely going to go great and I am not going to hit 97 mph,” Maine said with a grin. “But, I am going to go out there and pitch mentally like I always have and that’s the exciting part. I’m hoping I can get through it pretty easily.”