MIAMI (AP) -Pedro Martinez walked through the New York Mets' clubhouse Friday, shaking hands and sharing hugs with teammates, happy to play cheerleader for one night and eager to return to the mound.
``Hello. Hello everybody. Hello,'' a grinning Martinez said as he worked the room. Then he headed for locker No. 45 and put on his uniform.
``It's always good to see Petey,'' manager Willie Randolph said. ``Hopefully he'll be back sooner than later.''
Martinez took a brief break in his rehabilitation regimen to join the Mets for the start of their weekend series at Florida. Recovering from rotator cuff surgery, he remains on schedule to return in August.
The 35-year-old right-hander said he's tossing balls 230 feet and said his comeback compared favorably with the return of another New York pitcher, Roger Clemens, who is in the minor leagues and expects to soon rejoin the Yankees.
``I saw Roger pitch the other day,'' Martinez said. ``Without a doubt I can do that, and probably even better. At this point I could probably throw as hard or maybe harder. I feel like I'm in better condition. Roger doesn't seem to be like he's supposed to be - the Roger I'm used to seeing, that's not him. I can respect that, because it's so early.''
A three-time Cy Young Award winner, Martinez said he feels rejuvenated and confident his velocity will return to the mid-90s. He's expected to start throwing from a mound next month.
``What's hard to handle is the fact you feel so well,'' he said. ``You wonder, `Why am I not on top of the mound?' It's really difficult to deal with. You throw off flat ground and feel you could pitch a whole game. You have to wait - to sit back and relax. That's the hardest part.''
Last year Martinez went 9-8 with a 4.48 ERA.
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