JUPITER, Fla. (AP) — John Maine sees an opportunity with the Miami Marlins as his way back to the majors following a two-year absence.
Maine, 31, was sidelined in July 2010 after undergoing arthroscopic shoulder surgery. He signed a minor-league deal in December with the rebuilding Marlins.
“I like the youth, I like how much energy all these people have,” Maine said Friday. “I kind of don’t fit in because these guys are like 10 years younger. I’m getting lapped out there.”
Maine will start Miami’s spring training opener on Saturday afternoon against the St. Louis Cardinals. He’s competing for the fifth spot in the Marlins rotation.
The veteran right-hander was 41-36 with a 4.35 ERA in seven seasons with the Baltimore Orioles and New York Mets. He pitched on minor-league deals with Colorado, Boston and the New York Yankees the past two years.
Maine would join Ricky Nolasco in adding experience to a rotation expected to include young hurlers Jacob Turner, Nathan Eovaldi and Henderson Alvarez.
“Having veteran presence helps over the course of the season,” Maine said. “My main goal right now is to try and get my head right and do what I have to do to pitch.
“As the season goes on, it’s more of a mental thing than a physical thing. I had a lot of help from guys like (Tom) Glavine, (Billy) Wagner and Pedro (Martinez) in New York. Having some veterans does help.”
Maine is scheduled to pitch two innings on Saturday, more than a year after contemplating retirement.
“I already missed a year and a half, and I just wasn’t healing in 2011 and I wasn’t effective,” said Maine, who also underwent shoulder surgery in ’08. “You get to the point where, I was almost 30, am I wasting my time? Am I wasting the coaches’ time?
“Frankly, I wasn’t pitching like I was capable of and it was embarrassing. Nobody wants to do that.”
Maine doesn’t sport a 97 mph fastball anymore. But for the first time in more than two years, he’s concentrating on more than just throwing.
“It’s good to be able to go out and work on pitching instead of just going out there and wanting to keep my arm healthy,” Maine said. “Instead of just hoping I can get through the day, it’s nice to go out and work on being a pitcher again.”
Maine said his main objectives the first time out will be to establish his fastball and throw strikes.
Command in the strike zone will be a priority for all Marlins pitchers.
“That’s a priority for 30 teams, whether your young, old or in between. Everybody’s trying to get the same thing,” Miami pitching coach Chuck Hernandez said. “It’s a little early to start ciphering out ERAs and all that. As the games keep coming, more things are added and more things are improved upon.”