Scott Maine working on new ways to retire lefties

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- One matter still to be resolved in the final two weeks of spring camp is finalizing the Cubs' bullpen. Scott Maine is eager to see what happens.

Maine is one of three left-handed relievers in camp along with James Russell and Trever Miller. So far, it's been a good spring for Maine.

"Numbers-wise, yes," Maine said. "If you look beyond the numbers, no, but it's Spring Training. I'm not going to come in here and hit my spots. It takes some time for me to do that. As far as throwing strikes and getting outs early in the counts, I'm doing that well. I just need to get my feel for my offspeed stuff better and I'll be fine."

Is the problem Arizona? A lot of pitchers say the dry air makes it tough for them to get breaking pitches to break.

"I don't make excuses," Maine said. "I've played all over the country. I can throw my same curve that I throw in Florida. You have to concentrate more on what you're doing. You really have to get on top of the curve here for it to work. If you're somewhere else, you can be on the side of it, and it'll still curve."

Cubs manager Dale Sveum has said he wants a left-hander who can get right-handers out. So far, Maine has done that. In six Cactus League games, he's held right-handed hitters to a .182 average while lefties are batting .429. But that's not really enough of a sample size. Maine has faced seven or eight lefties.

"They say lefties would have trouble against me, but they focus on that first- or second-pitch fastball and let it rip," Maine said. "I've just got to figure out a different game plan for a lefty. A righty, I have three pitches to work with and with a lefty, I only have two. And if I can't throw my curve over the plate, what do you think they look for? In the Dominican this year, I didn't give up a hit to a lefty."

Maine appeared in seven games for the Cubs last season, and held lefties to one hit in eight at-bats, while right-handers were 10-for-24. He spent most of the year at Triple-A Iowa, and there, held right-handers to a .197 average (23-for-117) and lefties to .214 (15-for-70).

He'll throw a fastball, slider and change to right-handers and just his fastball and slider to left-handers.

"When I throw the change to lefties, it gets hit pretty hard," he said.

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