Pedro tosses four innings in simulated game; Castillo sits out again

NEW YORK -- Pedro Martinez threw 55 pitches Wednesday during a simulated game in Florida, the latest step in his recuperation from a hamstring injury.

The New York Mets' right-hander tossed four innings against minor leaguers and fielded his position at the team's complex in Port St. Lucie, Fla. The club won't reveal a timetable for Martinez's return, but general manager Omar Minaya did say he hopes Martinez is weeks away, not months.

"When you're dealing with hamstrings, all areas of movement are a concern," Minaya said before New York's game against the Washington Nationals. "Tomorrow, we'll see how he feels."

The three-time Cy Young Award winner strained his left hamstring during his only start of the season April 1 against the Florida Marlins and has been on the 15-day disabled list.

Minaya said Martinez threw all his pitches Wednesday and is now on a regular routine, scheduled to pitch once every five days.

His next step will be a bullpen session and then probably another simulated game with a higher pitch count before the Mets consider whether Martinez is ready to begin a minor league rehab assignment, likely with Class-A St. Lucie.

In other news, second baseman Luis Castillo sat out his third straight game with a strained left quadriceps and could wind up on the disabled list.

Castillo worked out during batting practice and said his leg felt better, but acknowledged that if he's not ready to play by Friday or Saturday against the Yankees, he might go on the DL.

"We have to find out where he is physically," manager Willie Randolph said.

Damion Easley started at second base for the Mets again Wednesday night. Castillo said he probably won't play in the series finale Thursday, either.

"I want to wait for a couple of days," he said, with a large wrap on his left thigh.

Castillo said his quadriceps problem probably is related to the sore knee that's bothered him much of the year. The speedy Castillo had knee surgery in the offseason.