Notes: Looking good, Pedro
07/03/2007 9:03 PM ET
By Owen Perkins / Special to MLB.com
DENVER -- Before the Mets even took the field to stretch before Tuesday's game, the club was already abuzz with the results of a game played a couple of thousand miles away earlier in the day.
"Played" may be an overstatement in this case. The game was simulated, but the pitcher was real and the results were everything that the Mets could hope for.
Pedro Martinez threw his second simulated game at the Mets Spring Training complex in Port St. Lucie, Fla., throwing 50 pitches over three innings and using everything in his repertoire. It was a key milestone in his rehabilitation from his rotator cuff surgery on Oct. 5, 2006, and it means that the Mets' best hopes of having Martinez back in August can be counted as realistic rather than fantasy.
"Real encouraging stuff I'm hearing about Pedro," manager Willie Randolph said. "He's looking good, working hard and coming along real nicely. He's been doing great with what they're doing with him down there. They have the program, and we're confident that they're doing the right thing with what they're doing with him."
In what the Mets describe as part of their original plan for him, Martinez will take a "break" of a week to 10 days to rest before making his final push in preparation for his return to the big-league club.
"It's really a chance for him to recharge and rest his body and mind after nine months of extremely hard physical and mental work," assistant general manager John Ricco said. "He's been really going at it for a long time to get himself to this position. The thought process is now to let him rest and recover for the next step, which is to pitch in the Majors.
"The next step will be geared toward getting him ready for pitching. Whether that means a Minor League assignment right away, we'll figure out in the next few days, but it's a real positive day for us."
In addition to throwing the simulated game, Martinez also participated in pitchers' fielding practice, reporting that he felt good in all aspects. He has been champing at the bit in his rehab program, with results to encourage even the most skeptical front-office type.
"We never doubted him," Ricco stressed, "but the reality of it is, you see him hitting these milestones and you can't help but get excited."
General manager Omar Minaya has kept close tabs on the situation, keeping in contact with Martinez as well as Mets medical director Dr. David Altcheck, who performed the operation, and Martinez's physical therapist, Chris Corenti.
"Dr. Altcheck is amazed at how he's been able to stick to this program and hit every milestone," Ricco said. "From the beginning, it was planned that when he got to this point, he was going to need some time to step back, recharge and then make that final push to get back."
Even through Randolph tries not to get distracted by players rehabbing until they are to the point that they are playing in actual Minor League games, he couldn't help but be encouraged by the consistently bright reports coming from Port St. Lucie and by Martinez's own confidence that he feels strong and ready to return as good as ever.
"The main thing when you come through any type of surgery is that you feel as strong as you can as soon as possible," Randolph said. "We still don't want to get ahead of ourselves. We all feel very positive about what he's doing. But any time you can feel like a guy's ahead of schedule in some way, that's always good news. Everything I've heard -- knock on wood -- has been real positive. It's all good stuff."
Halfway home: The Mets hit the midpoint of their season with plenty to be happy about, sitting atop the National League East with a four-game lead over the Braves heading into Tuesday. But don't expect them to suffer from an abundance of contentment with the job only half over.
"I think we can play better, but I'll take where we're at right now with the injuries that we have," David Wright said. "After we went through that tough two weeks, to be where we're at, I'll take it, but I think there's room for improvement. We haven't played consistently the type of baseball we're capable of."
With Martinez on the disabled list, along with the likes of Moises Alou, Endy Chavez, Duaner Sanchez and most recently, starting pitchers Jorge Sosa and Oliver Perez, the Mets have reason to believe that things can only get better.
"We're not going to change much," Randolph assured. "We're going to keep playing the game we play and keep everybody healthy. The health is the key. And if you get the guys that have probably been a little subpar to pick it up a little bit, we're hoping that they'll get back to their career numbers and that will help also.
"We'll finish up strong this week, have a nice break and then get back at it again, pick it up just the way we have the early part of this season with playing good baseball."
Trading Futures: Mets' Minor Leaguer Kevin Mulvey, a right-handed pitcher for Double-A Binghamton, has been added to the United States team for the XM Futures Game on July 8 as part of the All-Star festivities in San Francisco. Mulvey has a 6-8 record in Binghamton, posting a 3.40 ERA while notching 60 strikeouts against 28 walks.
Mulvey's Double-A teammate Fernando Martinez has been scratched from representing the World Team because of a hand injury.
On tap: Orlando Hernandez (4-3, 2.78 ERA) will toe the rubber at 8:05 p.m. ET on Wednesday, facing Rockies right-hander Josh Fogg (3-6, 5.31) in the series finale at Coors Field.
pedro throws another session. Mets look for el duque to get them back in the win column.