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Marcum ready to seize opportunity given by Mets

NEW YORK -- Shaun Marcum understands what awaits him in Flushing. After R.A. Dickey departed, Marcum came aboard, so he is the man who will need to replace Dickey.

He is the man who will need to replace the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner.

"I'm not going to be able to do it myself," Marcum said Wednesday, after the Mets officially announced his one-year deal worth a reported $4 million base salary. "I'm just going to go out there and do what I can to help the Mets be consistent, and go as deep in the game as I can. That's about all I can ask for."

That's about all the Mets can ask of their newest acquisition, as well. General manager Sandy Alderson signed Marcum not because he thought the right-hander could deliver Dickey-type numbers, but because he believed Marcum could provide innings and stability in the middle of the rotation.

Though Marcum has battled injuries in recent years, he boasts a strong track record when healthy, posting a career 57-36 record with a 3.76 ERA. He strikes out a fair amount of batters considering his low-velocity arsenal, and does not cede many walks or home runs.

More than performance, then, the issue with Marcum is health. Shoulder and elbow issues dogged him in 2012, finally forcing him off the mound when he partially tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. A full tear might have necessitated surgery, but Marcum stuck with rest and rehab, returning in August to make eight starts down the stretch.

Marcum claims that he is now healthy, altering his throwing program in recent years to incorporate more frequent long-toss sessions and a heavier overall workload.

"I have had no problems since I started my program, and really have had no problems ... since I came off the DL in August," Marcum said. "The main thing was getting my arm strength back, throwing more, and with that, I'm recovering. I haven't even had any soreness."

The hope is that Marcum can return to form as the roughly 30-start, 200-inning pitcher he was from 2010-11 with the Blue Jays and Brewers. That is why he chose the Mets over "15 to 20" other teams that pursued him to varying degrees this winter. In New York, Marcum realized, opportunity was there for the taking.

"I think that's every starter's goal," he said of the chance to make a full slate of starts. "They're giving me the opportunity to do that, and I couldn't pass that up."

So Marcum will join Johan Santana, Jon Niese, Matt Harvey and Dillon Gee in a rotation that ranked eighth in the NL in ERA last season. With Dickey gone, that number is almost certain to increase.

Marcum will play a significant role in determining how much or how little.

"If all five starters go out there and do their job, stay healthy, get to the goal of 200-plus innings, that will fill R.A.'s shoes by itself," Marcum said. "The teams I've been on that made it late in the season, still in the playoff race, we didn't use that many starters. Everybody stayed healthy and everybody made their starts. So if we can do that, that will help to fill the hole that was left when R.A. was traded."