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Pedro to start Monday vs. Reds, but pitch count will be limited

ATLANTA -- New York Mets pitcher Pedro Martinez, recovering
from rotator cuff surgery, will make his first start of the season
on Monday at Cincinnati.

Martinez did a great job throwing 53 pitches in a Friday night
bullpen session making the Mets' decision to activate him easy. The
three-time Cy Young winner underwent surgery last Oct. 5.

"I'm happy to say he's going to take the ball for us Monday in
Cincinnati," Mets manager Willie Randolph said Saturday before a
game against the Atlanta Braves. "It's great to have him back in the fold."

Randolph said Martinez threw "crisp, nice and free" and said
the throws appeared to be "effortless coming out of his hand."

Martinez hasn't pitched for New York this season but has made
four rehab starts, including Monday night when he gave up an
unearned run and five hits in six innings for the St. Lucie Mets
against the Palm Beach Cardinals in a Class A Florida State League
game.

Martinez said he will be limited to 75 pitches and no more than
35 pitches in one inning.

"I had to agree to that. I know it's for my own good. It's best
for the team, too," Martinez said. "I can't be too greedy. I
can't go out there with high expectations."

The activation of Martinez came at a good time for the Mets.
Right-hander Orlando Hernandez was hit hard in Thursday's 11-10
loss to Philadelphia and has been bothered by a sore tendon in his
right foot. He flew back to New York and had a cortisone shot in
the foot. He was expected to return to the team Saturday and his
status was day-to-day, the team said.

Martinez said he was not concerned that he has not reached his
normal velocity in the minor league games.

"The better you feel, the more you want to push it. I don't
want to fall into that trap," said Martinez.

"Pedro's a pitcher, man. Great pitchers execute their
pitches," said Randolph.

The bullpen session came after the Mets were coming off a
four-game sweep by the Philadelphia Phillies. They had lost five in
a row before beating Atlanta 7-1 on Friday night.

The Mets, who led the division by seven games on Aug. 25, were
only two games ahead of the Phillies and 5½ ahead of the Braves
entering Saturday's games.