NEW YORK (AP) — Shaun Marcum was excited to sign with the New York Mets because they offered him an opportunity to pitch every five days. As for replacing R.A. Dickey, that will take a team effort.
“I think if all five starters go out there and do their job, stay healthy, get to the goal of 200-plus innings then I think just that will fill R.A’s shoes in itself,” Marcum said during a conference call Wednesday.
Despite the possible pressure of being seen as Dickey’s replacement, Marcum felt comfortable coming to New York thanks to a couple of familiar faces.
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Mets special assistant J.P. Ricciardi — then the general manager of the Toronto Blue Jays — drafted Marcum in the third round of the 2003 draft out of Missouri State, and the right-hander says his old boss played a key role in this signing.
Marcum’s one-year contract became official Wednesday. He will earn $4 million in salary and can earn $2.25 million in performance bonuses and $1.75 million in roster bonuses.
He would get $250,000 for each for 120, 140, 160 and 170 innings pitched, $375,000 apiece for 180 and 190 and $500,000 for 200.
He also can make $375,000 each for 90 and 120 days on the active roster or on the DL for an injury other than to his right arm, and $500,000 apiece for 150 and 170.
The 31-year-old Marcum also knows the Mets new catcher, John Buck, well. They were teammates for what Marcum called his best season in the majors, 2010 in Toronto. Buck came from the Blue Jays to New York in the trade for Dickey, a swap that included four catchers.
“Having him behind the plate, that comfort level, getting to spring training I don’t have to try to go over my game plan with three or four different catchers,” Marcum said. “John already knows how I pitch.”
Marcum went 13-8 with a 3.64 ERA in 31 starts in 2010, a year after he had elbow-reconstruction surgery. He missed two months last season with Milwaukee because of more elbow trouble but says he is now fully healthy.
“We did MRIs, all that stuff, did another one this winter. The main thing was it wasn’t the flexor tendon, the ligament or anything like that. Everybody was happy, I’m happy,” Marcum said. “Now it’s just about going out and pitching and doing whatever I can to help the Mets.”
Marcum joins a Mets’ rotation that includes left-handers Johan Santana and Jonathon Niese, and righties Matt Harvey, a rookie, and Dillon Gee, none of whom reached 200 innings last season. The signing does allow New York to keep right-hander Zack Wheeler — rated the No. 8 prospect by MLB.com — in the minors at least a little longer.
In order to reach his goal of pitching 200 innings for the second time in his seven-year career, Marcum has been throwing more during the offseason than in the past.
“The philosophy I was brought up in was kind of ‘Save your bullets, don’t throw too much,'” he said of his professional career. “I kind of went back to my old high school, college days when my arm was feeling great. I was throwing as much as I possibly could. Throwing every single day. Throwing more distance. Long-tossing out to 280, 300 feet. And I’ve just been building up that arm strength. And I’ve had no problems since I started my program.”
In 21 starts for Milwaukee last year, he was 7-4 with a 3.71 ERA. Overall, he is 57-36 with a 3.76 ERA.