Mets' Maine throws 24 pitches, says there's no pain; Manuel wants to go slow

ATLANTA -- New York Mets pitcher John Maine, on the disabled list since Aug. 24 with a bone spur in his right shoulder, threw 24 pitches and faced four batters in a simulated game on Saturday.

Though Maine indicated afterward that he might need only one bullpen session to prove he's ready to help New York earn a playoff spot next week, Mets manager Jerry Manuel took a more cautious approach.

"He didn't really have the command," Manuel said. "When you're a power guy and have a little extra at the end of the pitch, command becomes critical."

Maine has offered to help the Mets' beleaguered bullpen, which lost closer Billy Wagner to season-ending surgery and has blown 28 of 70 saves opportunities this year.

"What we have to guard against is John Maine not being that guy and trying to be somewhat of a finesse guy at this point," Manuel said. "That's probably something that we really don't need."

Maine, who went 10-8 with a 4.18 ERA in 25 starts this year, reported no substantial pain in his shoulder, though he acknowledged that he will have a better gauge of his condition on Sunday.

"Just feel a knot, a little tightness back there, but no pain," Maine said. "It's better than I thought. It kind of feels foreign because it's been more than three weeks."

Pitching coach Dan Warthen stood behind Maine during the simulated game and estimated his velocity was between 86-87 mph, down approximately 5-6 mph.

"That's about what you would expect," Warthen said. "You get in a game situation, you might see 90, 91, but it would be really rude of us to try to put John in a tough situation, throwing the way he is right now."