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Maine, Pelfrey look forward to bounce-back seasons

John Maine watches from the dugout as the

John Maine watches from the dugout as the Mets play the Milwaukee Brewers at Citi Field. (Apr. 19, 2009) Credit: Getty Images

The Mets were counting on a healthy John Maine and an effective Mike Pelfrey to solidify their 2009 pitching rotation. That didn't go so well.

Since the Mets haven't added anyone to their rotation with a month to go before pitchers and catchers report to Port St. Lucie for spring training, Pelfrey and Maine have another chance to be productive parts of a pitching staff that seems to be without many expectations.

"Last year, we had pretty much the same rotation and guys picked us to go to the World Series and win it," Pelfrey said Wednesday during an event at Citi Field for local students. "Guys got hurt, I had a bad year, and now guys are saying everybody's terrible. I think we're going to be fine. If they go out and add another guy, it'll be a bonus. But it's amazing how things change because guys get hurt or people have bad years."

Pelfrey fell into the "bad year" category. He was the only starter to stay healthy the entire season but finished 10-12 with a 5.02 ERA. He said he's dropped 20 pounds this winter, down to 228, and he's mentally prepared for a better season.

"My head's clear, I'm ready to go. I know I need to have a lot better year than I had last year. It's totally not acceptable," he said. "I think I'm going to be a lot better. There were a lot of times last year I threw almost maybe too many fastballs. I need to get back to that point where I can command a secondary pitch."

Maine struggled through shoulder problems that began at the end of 2008, limiting him to 15 starts last season. He said he's altered his offseason throwing regimen and hasn't yet thrown off a mound.

"I think, in winters before, I started earlier than I should have," he said. "By this time, I've usually thrown three or four bullpens, and I shouldn't have, because spring training is long."

Perhaps the biggest change that could help Pelfrey and Maine, who are still just 26 and 28, respectively, is the potential addition of catcher Bengie Molina. The veteran, still in negotiations with the Mets, and veteran Henry Blanco would be a far more experienced tandem behind the plate than Pelfrey and Maine have been accustomed to.

"They're going to help you out," Maine said. "Good catchers make pitchers better, and they have a reputation for that."

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