Maine, Perez throw bullpen sessions
Both Mets pitchers will make at least one more rehab start
NEW YORK -- John Maine and Oliver Perez took one step closer to returning to action, each throwing a bullpen session at Citi Field on Wednesday.
Maine, who was placed on the disabled list on June 11 with fatigue in his right shoulder, threw roughly 40 pitches and reported "achiness," but no pain.
"I feel better. I don't have the sharp pain I did," Maine said. "There's still a little achiness, but it's improved."
When asked what the difference was between pain and achiness, Maine responded that he could pitch through the latter.
Maine first returned to the mound in a rehab game on Monday night, throwing 60 pitches and allowing a lone run in four innings for the Class A St. Lucie Mets. For now, qualified by some careful wording from manager Jerry Manuel, the plan appears to be for Maine to start at least one more game in the Minors before returning to the Mets.
"At this point, as I speak, we're still planning on staying with the rotation that we have at least throughout the weekend," Manuel said before Wednesday's game. "It appears as though, at least at this point, [Maine and Perez] will probably get another start at either [Triple-A] Buffalo or [Class A] Brooklyn."
Perez, meanwhile, threw about 50 pitches in his bullpen session as he attempts to come back from patellar tendinitis in his right knee.
"I don't feel anything," Perez said. "I'm not thinking about my knee; I'm just thinking of making my pitches. That's the key for me -- I don't have pain."
Perez has been on the disabled list since May 8. He aggravated the knee injury in a previous rehab start on May 30.
He, too, pitched on Monday night in St. Lucie, with considerably less encouraging results than Maine. Perez lasted just three innings, giving up six runs on seven hits. On the positive side, only two of the runs were earned, and 40 of Perez's 56 pitches were for strikes.
While on the disabled list, Perez has worked extensively with rehab coordinator Guy Conti to fine-tune his mechanics. Perez said he no longer tails off to the third-base line after releasing the ball to the plate, staying more in the middle of the mound.
Perez said it will likely take at least two more starts in the Minors before he works his pitch count up enough to contribute for the big club again.
His exact role with the Mets when he does return is also up in the air. Manuel suggested he might use Perez out of the bullpen if spot starter Fernando Nieve continues to perform well. Earlier in the week, Manuel said Nieve will remain in the rotation until he falters, and that Maine or Perez could be relegated to the bullpen.
The indication on Wednesday was that Perez is likelier to make that move to the relief corps.
"You always are searching for another lefty in the 'pen," Manuel said. "Based on that, I'd probably say Perez would be more suited for that than John Maine."
For his part, Maine just wants to be back with the Mets, who are 4-8 since he hit the disabled list.
"Having me and Ollie back, it's a good problem to have," Maine said. "You want to get back, you want to help this team out."
Tim Britton is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.