Jerry Manuel didn't come right out and say this morning that John Maine will be released, but he dropped some pretty strong hints.
The manager insisted that Hisanori Takahashi is staying put in the rotation after Friday's performance against the Yankees, and Manuel has made no secret of his support of R.A. Dickey. On top of that, Manuel said that he doesn't "see him as a candidate for the bullpen."
So then when can Maine pitch?
"On the off days," Manuel said.
It was clear that the clock was ticking on Maine ever since Manuel pried the baseball from his hand after only five pitches May 20 in DC. By then, Manuel had lost any remaining trust in the oft-injured righthander, and sticking him on the DL with shoulder weakness was just an excuse to buy more time.
Now that Maine has logged two rehab starts, neither one very impressive, the Mets plan on him making a third this week. After that, they may have no choice but to designate him for assignment. Maine is out of options, so he can't be sent straight to the minors. Ultimately, the Mets may just have to eat the roughly $2 million left on his $3.3-million salary for this season.
"We'll just have to make some tough, tough decisions going forward," Manuel said.