Phillies' Martinez solid in rehab start

Updated: August 6, 2009, 12:23 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

READING, Pa. -- Pedro Martinez recorded nine of his first 12 outs by strikeout and worked six innings Wednesday night for Double-A Reading in what he hopes was his final rehab start before joining the Philadelphia Phillies.

"Physically I was a little weak, not as strong as I expected to be," Martinez said, according to the Philadelphia Daily News. "It's been a hard week, but that's OK. It's part of the game. I got better [as the game went on]. I still have to do a little bit more work."

But mostly, he's getting antsy. He told Philadelphia reporters about his road trips through Pennsylvania and New Jersey, where he made his rehab starts, with his driver, Brian (the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Martinez doesn't know Brian's last name, only that he's famous in Philadelphia).

He is ready to settle into his apartment in the city, but the move back into the majors ultimately is up to Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., who attended the game in Reading with Phillies scout Charley Kerfeld.

"I don't want to ride in more cars with Brian," Martinez said to the Inquirer. "I love Brian, but I'd much rather leave him tickets to come see me in Philly."

[+] EnlargePedro Martinez
AP Photo/Bradley C. BowerPedro Martinez threw 82 pitches, 60 for strikes, in six innings for Double-A Reading. He allowed five hits and three earned runs, and walked none.

In his best start since signing a one-year deal on July 15, the 37-year-old Martinez allowed three earned runs and five hits without walking a batter against the New York Yankees' Trenton affiliate. He finished with 11 strikeouts.

"I'm making improvements as I go on, and that's what we want. Health-wise, my shoulder is fine, my arm is fine. I'm responding good between starts," he said.

In that first four-inning span in which he struck out nine, Martinez gave up two hits, including a home run to shortstop Eduardo Nunez.

Overall he looked free and easy, recording first-pitch strikes to 18 of the 23 batters he faced. He threw 82 pitches -- 60 strikes.

"I got out there and I spotted the ball better," Martinez said, according to the Inquirer. "None of the balls I threw from the stretch were hit hard. I made it happen. They put it in play. It's not like I want to walk people. I'd much rather give up bombs than walk people."

In three starts for Class A Clearwater, Triple-A Lehigh Valley and Reading, Martinez has given up seven earned runs and nine hits in 12 1/3 innings.

His next step will be another bullpen session later this week at Citizens Bank Park.

Martinez went 5-6 with a 5.61 ERA in 20 starts for the Mets last season. In March, he pitched for the Dominican Republic team in the World Baseball Classic, working six innings of scoreless relief in two games but went unsigned.

The Phillies immediately placed Martinez on the disabled list due to a right shoulder strain after signing him and has since traded for 2008 AL Cy Young Award winner Cliff Lee.

Adding Martinez, a three-time Cy Young Award winner, will force Philadelphia to adjust a rotation that includes Lee, World Series MVP Cole Hamels, Joe Blanton, J.A. Happ and Jamie Moyer.

Though he began the season in relief, Happ has been one of the Phillies' most effective starters this season.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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