Maine to DL as Mets call up Kunz
With Wagner ailing, bullpen needs reinforcement
HOUSTON -- Don't read too much into John Maine's move to the disabled list on Sunday. He swears he's healthy, strong and ready to pitch, despite what the transaction log might say.
"I'm more than capable of pitching anytime next week," Maine said. "There's no setback or anything like that. [The move] gets an arm in the bullpen, which is the most important thing."
That arm, Eddie Kunz, joined the team from Double-A Binghamton on Sunday after the Mets placed Maine on the disabled list with a mild strain of his right rotator cuff. The move is retroactive to July 29 and will force Maine to miss his scheduled start on Aug. 8. But he will miss only one start, and -- playing without the injured Billy Wagner -- the Mets can now proceed with an additional arm in their bullpen.
Maine originally strained his rotator cuff in his Monday start against the Marlins, and the Mets skipped his scheduled Sunday start. Maine was to pitch on Friday, in a slot that will now be occupied by a to-be-determined Minor Leaguer.
With even more time to recover, Maine said he expects to be fully ready to pitch when he can come off the disabled list on Aug. 13.
"It's not hurting more," Mets vice president of player development Tony Bernazard said of Maine's shoulder. "We feel that the extra time is going to do him some good. We're taking the precaution of making sure that he's going to be fine."
Though the Mets could pitch Oliver Perez on Friday and use a spot starter for Saturday's game against the Marlins -- a sequence that would allow them to call up top pitching prospect Jonathon Niese -- manager Jerry Manuel said that he would be more inclined to give Perez an extra day of rest and use a spot starter Friday. Claudio Vargas is the likely candidate to take Maine's spot in the rotation.
In the interim, the Mets are more concerned with their bullpen. That's why they selected the contract of Kunz, their top pick in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, to fill Wagner's void in the bullpen. Kunz, 22, had 27 saves and a 2.79 ERA in 44 games for Binghamton. He received the call after Saturday night's game in New Britain, and he hopped on an early-morning flight to Houston.
"It's not a really different game," Kunz said. "Heck yeah, there's more fans and all that stuff, but it's still baseball. You're still getting three outs. I've still got to be out there on the mound and do my job."
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.