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02/21/09 4:50 PM EST

Maine bringing back curveball

Mets think pitch will complement righty's repertoire

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- One of the curiosities of former pitching coach Rick Peterson's stay with the Mets was that two seasons ago, he ordered John Maine and Mike Pelfrey to stop throwing curveballs altogether. And so the two developed into productive big league starting pitchers, Pelfrey relying on his heavy sinker, Maine on more traditional mid-90s heat.

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After Dan Warthen took over as pitching coach last May, he helped integrate a curveball back into Pelfrey's repertoire. But Maine, who missed time with a bone growth in his right shoulder, didn't get an opportunity to regularly throw the pitch.

Now, in Spring Training, he does. Maine threw "a lot of" curveballs as part of a 40-pitch live batting-practice session on Saturday, his first time facing hitters since his final start in August. Maine went on the disabled list shortly afterward, attempted and abandoned a comeback in the bullpen, then underwent offseason surgery to shave the bone growth.

"I feel fine now," Maine said. "I don't think about it, so hopefully nothing comes back up."

Maine's throwing session on Saturday afternoon was split into two 20-pitch segments, to simulate the effect of throwing two separate innings. The second half of the session was far better than the first, in which he bounced a number of changeups in the dirt.

"They're all feel pitches," Maine said. "I haven't really thrown them. You've just got to learn it over again. But I made adjustments, and by the last 20 pitches, I felt fine."

Those final pitches included curveballs, which should help diversify Maine's repertoire. The thinking is that if Maine is armed with a curveball that crosses the plate on a low plane, his fastball and changeup -- two pitches he typically throws higher in the strike zone -- will become more effective.

"I've got to learn to do it again," Maine said. "It's been over two years since I've thrown it in a game. I've got to learn to do it sometime."

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.