JUPITER, Fla. (AP) -Pedro Martinez is getting sharper, a sign that he could be getting closer to rejoining the New York Mets.
The three-time Cy Young Award winner allowed an unearned run and five hits in six innings Monday night for the St. Lucie Mets against the Palm Beach Cardinals in a Class A Florida State League game. It was the fourth rehab start for Martinez, who is coming back from rotator cuff surgery.
``I felt good overall,'' said Martinez, who threw 52 of 88 pitches for strikes. ``I feel like I used all my pitches and I was getting more confident as the game went on. The first two innings I felt a little out of whack.''
Mixing his cutter, sinker and changeup with a fastball in the 84-88 mph range, Martinez was able to work out of jams in the first and sixth innings, getting two of his four strikeouts in the process.
``I'm not trying to overdo anything,'' he said. ``Whenever velocity is needed, I'll click it. After the last game, we decided we were going to work on the cutter and the changeup. At this stage, when you are coming off an injury, you can't really work on all of your pitches at once. You just want to take one at a time.''
Prior to Monday night's game in Philadelphia, Mets manager Willie Randolph indicated Martinez would likely make at least one more rehab start.
``I'm not going to answer that. I'm going to let the medical staff and Omar make that decision,'' Martinez said, referring to general manager Omar Minaya. ``My arm feels great.''
Martinez allowed a run, a hit and a walk in the first. He settled in after that, throwing five shutout innings and working out of a second-and-third, no-outs jam in the sixth.
After Martinez coaxed a popout for the first out of the inning, St. Lucie manager Frank Cacciatore visited the mound to see if Martinez wanted to walk the No. 8 hitter to set up a double play. Martinez smiled and politely refused.
He struck out the next hitter, then induced an inning-ending flyout.
``He wanted me to walk the guy,'' Martinez explained. ``I said no, this is what I want. I want to see if I can get out of this. I couldn't do that in the big leagues, Willie would just hold out four fingers from the dugout. No discussion necessary.''
Martinez said if he makes another minor league start, he prefers it to be in Florida. He said the results he got Monday night would have been the same against a Double or Triple-A team.
``Those number's don't go on your baseball card,'' Martinez said.
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