"Oh, man, that would be tough," manager Jerry Manuel said. "It would be tough with what he's going through. There have been times where we've had a ray of hope, where there was no pain involved and it felt great. But all of the sudden something jumps up."
The Mets on Friday confirmed that Maine is seeking a second opinion on his injured shoulder from Dr. James Andrews, a name that has become synonymous with major surgery. And though Maine and the Mets have not resigned themselves to such a fate just yet, it could be the next step following next week's meeting.
"We're going to wait and see what Andrews says, and we'll take it after that," said Mets assistant general manager John Ricco, who would not comment on the prospect of Maine missing the rest of the season.
Currently stationed in Port St. Lucie, Fla., with a large contingent of Mets regulars, Maine is "staying in shape," according to Ricco, but is no longer attempting to pitch with his normal intensity. He feels pain, not discomfort, though the distinction between those two words is beginning to blur.
Maine's most recent intense workout, a 65-pitch simulated game on Tuesday, could be his last for some time.
"[Tuesday] it felt all right, but the days in between, it's hard," Maine told a Newsday reporter in Florida. "It aches a little bit, but what are you going to do? There's always a chance that you're not going to go out there and do your best. It's not too bad pitching; it's just the days in between."
Maine, whose disabled list stay dates back to June 7, was 5-4 with a 4.52 ERA in 11 starts before suffering what the Mets were calling "right shoulder weakness," but what Maine has referred to as scar tissue affecting a pinched nerve in the joint. He underwent arthroscopic surgery last September to remove a lesion from the back of the shoulder socket, and told Newsday on Thursday that he may have pushed himself too hard in the ensuing rehab.
Concern over a discomfort that will not diminish prompted Maine to ask for a second opinion.
"I don't want to be here," Maine told the paper. "I want to be up there. It's me. I don't know when to lay off the gas."
And the Mets, acknowledging their tenuous position in the National League standings, have little reason to rush Maine back. Their deficit in the NL East reached double digits this week, meaning the Mets -- despite holding out hope -- are no longer hanging on his return.
"I think to get anybody back would be a big shot in the arm for us, anytime, especially within the next two weeks," Manuel said. "We almost have to have them within that time frame for me, in my opinion because of where we are in the standings in those and those types of things. Time is an issue now, a big issue."
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.