- Matt Ehalt, ESPN New York contributor
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Spending the first few weeks of the season on the disabled list hasn't been easy for Shaun Marcum.
"It’s been frustrating, that’s for sure. In spring training one of my main goals was to make all my starts and help these guys win as many as I can," said Marcum, who is on the disabled list with neck and shoulder pain. "Obviously that goal’s not going to happen as far as making all my starts. With the snow-outs and stuff I think I can still come close to 30 starts."
Marcum, who arrived in New York Wednesday, is eager to be activated off the disabled list and make his season debut Saturday against Philadelphia. The veteran signed a one-year deal with the Mets in the offseason and will be a welcome addition to a Mets rotation that has struggled mightily outside of Matt Harvey and Jon Niese. Marcum went 7-4 with a 3.70 ERA in 21 starts for Milwaukee last year.
"Everything feels good. I saw the docs up here, a couple weeks ago. After that everything’s been pretty good," Marcum said. "I was able to build up some pitch-count down there, get some arm strength and I am looking to get out there and help these guys on Saturday."
The neck and shoulder pain for Marcum stemmed from an inflamed nerve in his neck that required an injection to calm down. Doctors have told him he could need another shot down the road if it acts up again, but that's not a major concern. He would not miss any more starts if he need another shot.
Once the nerve settled down, Marcum's rehab focused on building up his arm strength. Doing long-toss and throwing bullpens aided as he worked the arm. He said his shoulder has been great and there haven't been any problems with it since the neck problem subsided.
"Once I started playing catch, I took it slow the first days. Once I got back on the mound and was able to let the ball go and not feel anything, my confidence shot through the roof," Marcum said.
"I felt good and I’m not worried about it at all. I’m just focused on helping these guys win games.
Marcum is slated to throw between 90-95 pitches Saturday. Monday, he threw five scoreless innings and tossed 52 pitches in extended spring training. The 31-year-old said it's difficult for him to gauge his effectiveness since those batters swung at everything, but he was able to locate and throw his pitches for strikes, which was his main concern.
"As I said in spring training, my legs and conditioning are underneath me and I feel good there," Marcum said. "It’s just a matter of going out there and trying to get these guys to put the ball in play early in the count and try to go as deep in the game as I can and give the bullpen a little bit of a rest and help these guys win some games."