No New York Mets pitcher had ever thrown a no-hitter — not Tom Seaver, not Dwight Gooden, not Tom Glavine. But on Sept. 29, 2007, John Maine was four outs away from throwing what would have been the franchise’s first — against the Marlins.
With two outs in the eighth inning, Paul Hoover, a minor-league journeyman catcher, hit a dribbler up the third-base line. All-Star David Wright had no chance at a play.
Hoover was in the game only because starting catcher Miguel Olivo had been ejected in the fifth inning for igniting a bench-clearing brawl. But Hoover’s single was the Marlins’ only hit.
“He couldn’t have rolled it out there any better,’’ Maine recalled.
The 13-0 win was Maine’s best game in what was his best season — 15-10 with a 3.91 ERA over 191 innings. He went 10-8 with a 4.18 in 2008 before his career went off track because of shoulder injuries.
Maine, 31, hasn‘t pitched in the majors since 2010 but is hoping to revive his career with the Marlins. He will start Miami’s Grapefruit League opener today in his bid to win the fifth rotation spot.
“He’s definitely in the mix,” manager Mike Redmond said.
Maine came up with Baltimore in 2004, then pitched for the Mets from 2006-10. He pitched for New York Yankees’ Class AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre team in 2012, going 8-5 with a 4.97 ERA.
Maine said he is happy just to be throwing without pain since 2012.
“It has been a long road back,’’ he said. “It’s going to take a couple of times to get back into pitching mode. This is the first step.’’
Maine said he was thrilled when his friend and former teammate Johan Santana finally threw the first no-hitter in Mets history last year.
“It was good for him for what he came through. He had the same thing I did. He had a capsule tear and he missed all of (2011). I was happy to see him do that because you know there is hope,’’ Maine said.
Maine’s tenure with the Mets didn’t end well. In what turned out to be his final start for the Mets, he was removed from a game in May 2010 for precautionary reasons after throwing only five pitches.
Maine and manager Jerry Manuel had a heated exchange in the dugout, with Maine insisting he felt fine. But pitching coach Dan Warthen didn’t believe Maine.
“Something’s not feeling correct. John’s a habitual liar in a lot of ways as far as his own health,’’ Warthen said in published comments. “He’s a competitor and a warrior. He wants to go out there and pitch. But we have to be smart enough to realize this guy isn’t right, the ball’s not coming out of his hand correctly.”
In Marlins camp, Maine has a clean slate.
“We’re not concerned about what happened in the past,” Redmond said.
“We’re worried about moving forward, and what he can do now. I know that he’s had success in the past. If he can come back and be that guy, it’s going to be a big help for our team.”
Stanton hitting third: Giancarlo Stanton will bat third and play right field today. Redmond will unveil the rest of his batting order before the game, but announced his position players:
Juan Pierre will play left field, Gorkys Hernandez center, Placido Polanco third base, Adeiny Hechavarria short, Donovan Solano second and Joe Mahoney first. Jeff Mathis will catch and Alfredo Silverio will be the designated hitter.
Stanton can expect plenty of playing time before he leaves the Marlins on March 3 to play for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic.
“He needs to get in there and get as many at-bats as he can to where he feels comfortable so that when he leaves here he will be ready to go,’’ Redmond said.
Ruggiano out: Justin Ruggiano, who came to camp as the front-runner to open the season in center field, has a back strain and the Marlins are not sure how long he will be out.