From what I have learned over the past few years working in baseball, for the most part, you can throw out the numbers from spring training of your typical MLB regular. Most of the time, pitchers will be working on a certain pitch, location or their delivery and won’t worry so much about mixing their pitches and getting guys out. A pitcher can have a high ERA and a successful spring. The same can be said about position players. A prolonged slump could be simply working on hitting a certain pitch or maybe testing yourself behind in the count.
But for others, it can be much different. Let’s take Pitcher John Maine for example. Maine, a veteran of now seven seasons in the Majors, began his career with the Baltimore Orioles before being traded to the Mets in a deal that shipped Kris Benson the Baltimore. He has enjoyed decent success, especially in a 15-win 2007, but has fallen on tough times.
Last season, Maine went only 1-3 with a 6.13 ERA in nine starts as he battled shoulder issues and is trying to work his way back to the Majors. Maine raked in $3.3 million last season, almost half of the $6.7 million he has made in his major league career, but was released by the Mets after the 2010 season.
For Maine, Spring Training isn’t training at all, it’s a job interview. Maine signed a minor-league deal with the Colorado Rockies worth, according to Denver Post Writer Troy Renck, $1.3 million dollars if he makes the Rockies Opening Day roster and only $14,000 should he start the season in the minor leagues. So when he’s pitching in Spring Training games, he wants to get guys out, as opposed to simply working on his game.
Maine has made two appearances so far, allowing seven hits in five innings with one earned run, although he has allowed four unearned runs aided by his own error. My guess, if Maine doesn’t make the Opening Day roster with the Rockies, he’ll be in the MLB at some point this season and see the bump in salary that goes along with it, but on the surface the $1.3 million to $14,000 difference is a lot and goes to show the difference between the Spring Training Maine is having and that of a player who isn’t worried about his job.
Reminder: Curve (home) Opening Day is April 14…Come on out!