Notes: To Maine, it still matters
In first spring game, righty unhappy with his performance
JUPITER, Fla. -- Somewhere between the angst of the battered rookie pitcher and the "I got rocked. So what?" of the accomplished veteran was John Maine. Secure enough to know that no exhibition-game performance will cost him his standing in the Mets' rotation, Maine still was miffed by the unsightly pitching line his first Spring Training start produced on Thursday.
His reaction appeared closer to that of the battered rookie.
If ex-Met Tom Glavine had been available or if Pedro Martinez had made the trip from Port St. Lucie, Fla., Maine might have been soothed by "Hey, don't sweat it. First time out. You're getting your work in." Instead, Maine sat by his locker in the visiting clubhouse in Jupiter and heard himself say, "I was out there with a uniform on, competing. I expected to do better. It's no fun to get knocked around."
"Knocked around" in this case was a relative term. Maine allowed four hits -- none of them particularly well struck -- and two walks in 1 2/3 innings. His workday ended because he had thrown 45 pitches -- enough already -- not because another out was beyond him.
"It wasn't that bad, I guess," Maine said. But he had hoped for more.
"After throwing well in my bullpens, yeah, you want to make progress each time you throw," he said.
And what he did on Thursday, in what became the Mets' 7-0 loss to the Cardinals, didn't constitute progress -- to him.
A veteran or more accomplished pitcher might have looked at it through a different prism. Facing batters for the first time is a hurdle that must be cleared. Relearning how to pitch with what he called "game energy" is another step.
"I have to get used to it again," Maine said.
Maine would forgive himself.
"It's the first time out there in five months," he said.
Then condemn himself.
"I'm ticked off even if it is Spring Training," Maine said.
Maybe it will come easier next spring.
Medic: Duaner Sanchez was listed as a relief pitcher for the game against the Cardinals on Thursday, but he never even left Port St. Lucie. He told pitching coach Rick Peterson that he had general soreness, so the Mets pushed his appearance back. Sanchez pitched in the intrasquad game on Tuesday -- the 26 pitches exceeded his expectation -- and said afterward that he was exhausted.
But by Wednesday morning, he said, "I feel OK. I have good soreness. I'm tired where I'm supposed to be tired."
The club wasn't concerned by how he felt.
Marlon Anderson visited a chiropractor on Thursday morning to have his back adjusted. Anderson felt discomfort before Wednesday, and he acknowledged the five-hour round-trip to Lakeland, Fla., didn't help.
Absentees: General manager Omar Minaya said the club has no sense of when Tony Armas Jr. might report to camp, and that his delayed arrival "will make it tough" for him to win a job. "It's up to the State Department," Minaya said.
Armas, invited to camp as a non-roster player, and Fernando Tatis, who is in a similar circumstance, are the only two players absent from Mets camp. Each has been delayed because of visa problems. Tatis, said Minaya, is expected by the end of the first week of March. The former Rangers and Cardinals third baseman has virtually no chance of winning a place on the roster, no matter when he arrives.
Swinging: Some players can't get enough batting practice at this time of the year. Others aren't so hot about BP regardless of the month. Moises Alou is among the latter. He regards batting practice as a necessarily evil.
"I have to take it to play," Alou said on Thursday after his round of swings was complete. "I don't like to [take BP] that much. I don't like extra hitting, [usually an early afternoon exercise on the road], unless I'm really slumping."
Coming up: The Mets' Spring Training site changes to Port Santana Lucie on Friday, when the team plays its first home exhibition game and Johan Santana makes his in-game Mets debut. It all happens against the Cardinals on Friday, beginning at 1:10 p.m. ET. Adam Wainwright is to start for the Cardinals. Closer Billy Wagner and Aaron Heilman also are to pitch for the Mets. MLB.TV and SNY will carry the game live.
While the world will be focused on the bottom line, Santana will be working on his mechanics and the location of his pitches. The excitement he will feel, he said, will be "being excited for everyone. It will be good to get the first one out of the way."
Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.