Mets' Martinez to start Tuesday in return from hamstring injury

5/30/2008 - MLB Pedro Martinez

NEW YORK -- Pedro Martinez figures the New York Mets would be in much better shape if he had been around more often this season.

The three-time Cy Young Award winner rejoined the Mets on Friday and is scheduled to return to the mound Tuesday night in San Francisco for his second start of the year. He has been on the disabled list since straining his left hamstring April 1 at Florida.

"You know, when you're not winning, other things seem to come up. I'm pretty sure that if I was here, at least -- I'm not going to say the problems would have gone away -- but I would say it would have been a lot looser than it was," Martinez said. "Being a veteran and being as loose as I am, and being so noisy every day and so loud, I think that would have helped my teammates keep their cool."

New York dropped to 26-27 with Friday night's 9-5 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. As the club was slumping this month, there was speculation that manager Willie Randolph would be fired. Randolph met with ownership Monday and kept his job -- at least for now.

"It's been really difficult, actually seeing my teammates struggle and seeing the team not doing so well and not being able to do anything. Especially in those critical moments when things kind of got complicated," Martinez said.

"I spoke to everybody. I kept my ears open for everybody and I also called a lot. Even though I don't let you guys see me as much, I still keep in touch with everybody and I'm fully aware of what's going on."

Martinez originally planned to join the team for a bullpen session last week in Atlanta, but he returned home to the Dominican Republic to be with his ailing father, Pablo Jaime, who has a form of brain cancer.

"He's stable. He's probably not going to get much better than he is right now," Martinez said, adding that it's very difficult to be away from his family at this time.

The 36-year-old right-hander, in the final season of a four-year contract, also reiterated that he'd like to pitch for two or three more years if he's healthy, though his family is a major factor in that decision. He also he doesn't want to go through any more extensive rehabilitation. Martinez missed most of last season following shoulder surgery.

Finally back with the Mets, Martinez thinks his presence and advice will particularly help inconsistent left-hander Oliver Perez, who is 4-3 with a 4.83 ERA.

Martinez said his arm is in shape and he's confident he can go five or six innings against the Giants, perhaps pushing 100 pitches.

Wearing a headband, Martinez played catch in the outfield during batting practice Friday. He acknowledged he would have liked to make his return Sunday night at Shea Stadium "here with my fans."

After the team collapsed last September and missed the 2007 playoffs, Martinez said the Mets "owe something to the fans."

"We're due to win," he said. "We built a team to supposedly win it. I think we have the talent."

The Mets will need to open a roster spot for Martinez when he comes off the disabled list Tuesday. Mike Pelfrey (2-6, 5.33 ERA) has minor league options remaining and could be sent to Triple-A New Orleans.

Slated to start Saturday against the Dodgers, Pelfrey might be pitching to stay in the big leagues. He has lost six straight outings, though he flirted with a no-hitter May 15 against Washington.

Claudio Vargas (2-2, 4.50 ERA) is another possibility. But he would have to clear waivers before going to the minors, and he's probably pitched well enough to remain with New York.

"He's done a nice job for us," Randolph said. "He's a part of our rotation and he might stay there."

Right-handed reliever Carlos Muniz also has minor league options and could be sent back down.