Martinez has been brought along slowly because of a sore right big
toe, which he's afraid could alter his mechanics.
"It was a big load off my shoulders," Martinez said. "It was good to
finally get it out of the way."
Martinez said he felt his toe several times, but not enough to where
it bothered him.
"I would pitch like this all year," Martinez said. "If this is all I
am going to feel, you can forget about it."
The next step for Martinez, barring a setback, would be to pitch
four innings Friday against St. Louis.
Martinez is penciled in for the third game of the season, April 6
SEASON PREVIEW: With Opening Day rapidly approaching, the Mets have
had re-affirmed what they have known all along: Their questionable
pitching is what will carry them this summer.
In Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado, David Wright, Cliff Floyd and
Xavier Nady, the Mets have the potential of five 25-homer bats in the
heart of their order.
They'll score a lot of runs, but there's also the potential of
giving a lot back because there are questions, one through five, in the
rotation: Pedro Martinez anticipates pitching with soreness in his big
right toe all season; 40-year-old Tom Glavine was a .500 pitcher last
year; Steve Trachsel is coming off back surgery; Victor Zambrano is a
career .500-caliber pitcher; and whoever the fifth starter will be,
Brian Bannister or Aaron Heilman, he will be relatively inexperienced.
Bannister could get the job because the Mets are worried about their
bullpen, which will be without Juan Padilla for the season and doesn't
have a legitimate left-handed setup arm. Heilman was effective out of
the 'pen last year, especially against lefties, and the Mets could try
Billy Wagner saved 38 games last year for Philadelphia, while the
Mets' pen collectively blew 21 opportunities. Duaner Sanchez is
penciled in for the eighth inning and Jorge Julio the seventh, but the
Mets are wary of the latter. Heilman would deepen the 'pen because it
would enable manager Willie Randolph to possibly drop down Sanchez to
The Mets entered the offseason with four priorities and addressed
them all, adding the closer Wagner, power-hitting first baseman
Delgado, catcher Paul Lo Duca, and role players Julio Franco and Jose Valentin.
The Mets also dealt unhappy Mike Cameron for Nady, who'll start in
right and send Victor Diaz to the bench.
General manager Omar Minaya spent much of his offseason
alternatively trying to deal second baseman Kaz Matsui and saying he
was happy with him in the infield. However, Matsui's knee injury will
force him to the disabled list to start the season, and rookie Anderson Hernandez will play instead.
As of now, the Mets are hoping their offense -- which they hope will
include a more relaxed Beltran in his second season in New York -- will
produce enough to overcome their pitching deficiencies and other
It is a formula a lot of teams have tried -- most of them
PRIMED FOR A BIG SEASON: 3B David Wright is on the verge of going
from star to superstar, with Scott Rolen-type potential at the
position. Wright hit .306 with 27 homers and 102 RBI last year, and
with a year of experience and protection from 1B Carlos Delgado,
there's no telling what he could bring to the table.
ON THE DECLINE: LHP Tom Glavine is entering his walk year at 40 and
coming off a 13-13 season. With RHP Pedro Martinez's health an issue
and other questions throughout the rotation, there's more pressure for
Glavine to be Glavine and pitch the way he did in the second half of
last season, when he won five games.
LHP Billy Wagner long-tossed for the second straight day and is
expected to play catch again Monday. Wagner hasn't pitched since
Tuesday due to stiffness in the tendon of his left middle finger. "I'm
going to get in a game," said Wagner, who isn't as sure about working
in consecutive games. "There are a lot of spring trainings when I
haven't gone back-to-back, so I'm not worried."
LF Cliff Floyd missed his fourth straight game with the flu, but
he expects to play Monday.
Presuming RHP Brian Bannister is in the rotation and RHP Aaron
Heilman will work in relief, the Mets have five givens in the bullpen:
Wagner, Heilman and RHPs Duaner Sanchez, Jorge Julio and Chad Bradford.
Manager Willie Randolph is uncertain whether he will keep 11 or 12
INF Julio Franco had some minor tightness in his lower back
sustained after doing leg presses Saturday, but he was able to play.
2B Kaz Matsui, out three weeks with a knee injury, did some light
jogging and hopes to start doing baseball-related exercises by the end
of the week.
RHP Pedro Martinez gave up one hit and a walk with one strikeout
in three scoreless innings Sunday in his first exhibition appearance of
the spring. Martinez, rehabbing a sore big right toe, is expected to
pitch Friday against St. Louis.
BY THE NUMBERS: 1,406 -- Career stolen bases for Rickey Henderson, a
guest instructor in camp to work with SS Jose Reyes.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "My body will tell me when I am ready." -- RHP Pedro
Martinez's response to questions about how far he expects to go when he
returns to the mound.
We all know the Mets will score a lot of runs this year. We also
know they figure to give up a lot. As it is with every team, every
year, the Mets will go as far as their pitching takes them. And they
head into the season with more questions than answers on the mound.
1. LHP Tom Glavine
2. RHP Pedro Martinez
3. RHP Steve Trachsel
4. RHP Victor Zambrano
5. RHP Brian Bannister or RHP Aaron Heilman
The first three in their prime would probably be enough to
compensate for the inexperience and inconsistency of the back end.
However, Glavine is 40 and coming off a .500 year, Martinez has a bad
toe he says will bother him all year, and Trachsel is coming off back
surgery. Zambrano is so-so, and Bannister appears to have the inside
track on the fifth starter role because deficiencies in the bullpen
dictate a need for Heilman in that role.
LHP Billy Wagner (closer)
RHP Duaner Sanchez
RHP Aaron Heilman
RHP Jorge Julio
RHP Chad Bradford
RHP Yusaku Iriki
LHP Royce Ring
Wagner saved 38 games last year for Philadelphia, the same number
the Mets bullpen collectively saved. A more telling number, however,
were the 21 blown saves. That's where the bridge comes in.
been penciled in for the eighth inning and Julio the seventh, but the
Mets don't know what to expect from the latter.
Also, with Juan Padilla
lost for the season and without a dominating situational lefty, Heilman
can be moved back into the setup role he capably filled last year,
which would push everybody down.
1. SS Jose Reyes
2. CF Carlos Beltran
3. 1B Carlos Delgado
4. 3B David Wright
5. LF Cliff Floyd
6. RF Xavier Nady
7. C Paul Lo Duca
8. 2B Anderson Hernandez
Manager Willie Randolph refuses to say such things as bunching his
speed at the top of the order -- Reyes and Beltran -- and separating
lefty sluggers Delgado and Cliff Floyd are important, but that's only
Although there has been speculation Lo Duca would hit
second, Beltran is the team's best natural number two hitter in that he
combines power and speed, plus he can bunt and move runners over.
Wright is poised for a monster year between Delgado and Floyd, and if
everything goes according to plan, Nady and Lo Duca should have a lot
of RBI opportunities before the bottom of the order hits.
C Ramon Castro
INF Julio Franco
INF Jose Valentin
OF Victor Diaz
OF Endy Chavez
This could be the Mets' deepest bench in years, with the additions
of Franco and Valentin key for the late innings. Diaz has power
potential and Chavez speed.
ROOKIE WATCH: 2B Anderson Hernandez figures to make the team because
of Kaz Matsui's knee injury. As long as he makes the plays the Mets
will be happy because they have enough offense to carry him. RHP Brian
Bannister was ticketed for the minor leagues, but he's been outstanding
this spring and weaknesses in the bullpen have created a need for him
to be in the rotation and RHP Aaron Heilman to work in relief.
MEDICAL WATCH: RHP Pedro Martinez's sore right big toe is the key to
the season. If he's ineffective, the Mets can kick their season
good-bye. RHP Juan Padilla is lost for the year with elbow surgery and
2B Kaz Matsui will open the season on the disabled list with a knee
injury. LH closer Billy Wagner was held out five days with stiffness in
the middle finger of his pitching hand. 1B Carlos Delgado has been
bothered by tendinitis in his left elbow but said he has more range of