Q&A with John Maine

Rookie right-hander John Maine made a strong impression on the New York Mets this season, stepping into the big league rotation and spinning 25 consecutive scoreless innings through one stretch this summer, including a complete game shutout.

Maine joined Inside Pitch to reminisce about his earlier days as a prospect with the Baltimore Orioles, discuss his development and reveal the real reason why he enjoys it so much when Billy Wagner comes into a game at Shea Stadium:

InsidePitchMagazine.com: Can you describe the circumstances under which you were called to the big leagues for the first time?

John Maine: It was in 2004 and I was in Ottawa, and we were playing Rochester, the Triple-A affiliate of the Twins. I was supposed to pitch in two days, so the pitching coach, Steve McCatty, calls me in there and says, 'I just want to go over the lineup.' He hands me a lineup and it was the Twins' lineup, and I said, 'Come on. What is this?' He said, 'You're pitching in Baltimore in two days. Learn it.'

Inside Pitch: What were your thoughts, looking at that Twins lineup?

Maine: Well, there was Jacque Jones, Torii Hunter, Corey Koskie, Justin Morneau. I was like, you've got to be kidding me. This is my first time, and these guys can hurt you.

Inside Pitch: What do you remember about that first start?

Maine: It was raining from the first pitch to the last pitch. It was like there was a monsoon coming through there. I lost and pitched not great, but not bad. It was at Camden Yards, and it was awesome. I grew up going to games there, because it was the closest stadium to me, so I had a bunch of people out there. It was amazing.

Inside Pitch: What would you say the best part of being a Met is?

Maine: I think you're out there in the spotlight more than most teams, and that's good or bad. If you do well, your name is going to be out there and people are going to recognize you for that. If you do badly, that's the same story. It seems like you have less of a margin for error than there was in Baltimore.

Inside Pitch: So the spotlight is not only the best part, but also one of the more difficult parts of playing in New York?

Maine: It is difficult, because your name is out there. It's not that you're not expected to win anywhere else, but you are expected to win in New York.

Inside Pitch: Who would you say has had a big influence on your career?

Maine: I've been very lucky to have good coaches, and overall, I don't think it's been any single one. In high school, college and the pros, they've all been very helpful. I'd probably say my high school coach, Craig Lopez. I've kept in touch with him, and in the offseasons, we've done workouts together. He's been a good guy to go talk to about pitching.

Inside Pitch: Who is your best friend in baseball?

Maine: I still keep in touch with some of the guys back in Baltimore, but as far as coming up this year, I keep in touch with Tim LaVigne and Steve Schmoll down there at Norfolk.

Inside Pitch: What's the funniest thing you've ever seen on a baseball field?

Maine: I think it's good to keep good humor out there. I've seen times where somebody messes up and it doesn't affect the game; more like a brain fart, I guess you could say. You know, those are always kind of funny to watch.

Inside Pitch: What has been your best moment as a baseball player?

Maine: Probably my complete game (on July 21, vs. Houston). That's probably been the best so far. I threw a no-hitter (on July 23, 2003 for Class-A Frederick) in the minors one time against Winston-Salem. That was pretty special for me too, way back when.

Inside Pitch: What has been your best moment off the field?

Maine: I'd say probably getting married. I don't know what my best moment has been off the field. I like to have fun, you know? A lot of memories are pretty good.

Inside Pitch: When did you first start thinking you had a legitimate chance to go pro?

Maine: In high school, I never thought I was going to get drafted. I thought baseball would be a pretty good means of going to college and getting a degree. I had a pretty good year my sophomore year, and the interest started showing and I finally got drafted.

Inside Pitch: What was it like with the scouts showing up? How did you deal with that?

Maine: It was fine. That stuff doesn't bother me; I don't really care about that stuff. I just went out there and pitched, and I was fortunate enough to get drafted.

Inside Pitch: If you didn't make it as a baseball player, what do you think you'd be doing?

Maine: I don't know. I don't like sitting behind a desk, but I'd probably wind up doing something like that. I was an engineering major, so something along those lines. I haven't even thought about that yet.

Inside Pitch: What are a few of your favorite movies?

Maine: Let's see. I liked "The Matrix" movies, sort of that sci-fi stuff. Then there's the classics, like "Dumb & Dumber." Jim Carrey movies are always fun to watch. He can do so many things. He can play a serious role, but he can just be downright stupid, and it's funny, especially in his earlier movies.

Inside Pitch: How about TV shows? What do you like to watch?

Maine: I don't watch too much TV, but I guess any sitcom is good. 'The Simpsons' is good, 'Friends' is good, 'Everybody Loves Raymond.' Those 30-minute sitcoms are good. I got into 'Lost' the second year, and I'm waiting on some DVDs. That's pretty good.

Inside Pitch: You have an iPod sitting in your locker. What are some of your favorite songs on there?

Maine: Anything by Metallica. I'm a hard rock, metal kind of guy, but on the other side, I listen to a lot of country, too. I guess I like Rage Against the Machine, they're a little like Metallica. Pantera is pretty good, old Ozzy Osbourne, stuff like that.

Inside Pitch: And you can use that to pump up before a start, right?

Maine: Oh yeah, it's great. That's why I always like it when Billy (Wagner) comes in.

Inside Pitch: Have you ever had a chance to see Metallica in concert?

Maine: I did. It's tough, because they tour a lot in the summer in America, but I actually saw them at the end of Oct. 2004, at the MCI Center in D.C. They had Godsmack open up, so it was an awesome show.

Inside Pitch: Do you think if they come to New York, you might pull some strings and see about getting a few backstage passes?

Maine: I'll tell you one thing, I'd give just about anything for that to happen. I'd be up here on the first flight if they ever came here. I'll get a hold of Jay (Horwitz). He seems to have all the connections.

Inside Pitch: Excluding anything I just asked you, what's the strangest question you've ever been asked?

Maine: Somebody just asked me a question the other day, but I can't remember. It was really off the wall. I think anytime somebody asks me about the future, I think that's a weird question, because I don't really think about that. I can't predict the future and nobody knows what's going to happen, so I worry about today.

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