Maine (shoulder) willing to work out of Mets' bullpen, maybe even as closer

9/15/2008 - MLB John Maine New York Mets + more

WASHINGTON -- Right-hander John Maine would be willing to work out of the New York Mets' problematic bullpen -- maybe even as the closer -- if he returns this season from a right shoulder injury.

Maine tossed a ball 35 times on flat ground Monday and hopes to return during next week's season-ending homestand, he said before New York's game against the Washington Nationals.

"I felt good. ... I didn't throw more than 60 feet," said Maine, on the disabled list since Aug. 24 with a bone spur in his throwing shoulder. "I'll do it again tomorrow, hopefully stretch it out a little bit more."

He is 10-8 with a 4.18 ERA in 25 starts this season. But he's open to relieving, if it gets him back on the field.

"I hate sitting down and not doing anything. I hope to be back by the homestand -- sometime. Whether it's an inning or two out of the 'pen, that's fine," Maine said. "I just want to get out there and pitch."

The Mets have 27 blown saves, including 11 in the ninth inning, and Maine himself raised the subject of trying the closer's role.

"If it helps the team, I'll do it," he said. "If I can't start a game this year, I'd like to go to the 'pen and throw the ninth inning."