Pedro to start Sunday against Mets
He'll get a chance to make them pay for that this weekend.
Now a member of the rival Phillies, the three-time Cy Young Award winner was back in New York on Friday as Philadelphia prepared to open a four-game series against the struggling Mets.
Martinez will pitch Sunday, his third start for the NL East-leading Phillies since agreeing to a $2 million, one-year contract on July 15. Coming off four injury-plagued seasons with the Mets, the 37-year-old right-hander sat out more than half the year while waiting for a deal that suited him.
I let go of some good offers, probably around spring training time, trying to wait for the Mets to do what they had to do and to try to come and negotiate with me.” -- Pedro Martinez
"I'm very happy to be back. I'm very happy to see some old friends," Martinez said at a Citi Field news conference. "I'm now in a different uniform -- the only thing that changes is the colors. I remain the same person. They remain the same players. I'm just looking forward to having a blast."
Martinez received a mix of boos and cheers in the second inning when the large video board pictured him sitting in the dugout in his Phillies cap and uniform. He showed no emotion.
The effervescent Martinez won 32 games for New York while playing out a $53 million contract. He made only five big league starts in 2007, then 20 last season.
Wearing a striped shirt and glittering chain around his neck, Martinez said before the game his first choice was to return to the Mets this year, but they showed little interest.
"I just hope that they understand that I was honest when I said I feel better, I feel more confident, I feel like my body is finally getting to the point where I can really help the Mets," Martinez said. "I don't know if they ever thought I was lying or something, because when I said it I meant it. I knew what I was feeling."
Hoping to draw interest in March, Martinez pitched for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic and surprised some with his increased velocity.
"I let go of some good offers, probably around spring training time, trying to wait for the Mets to do what they had to do and to try to come and negotiate with me," he said. "I never heard anything from them, so I decided to just stay at home and wait for the right opportunity and the right team, especially if it was in the National League."
Now, Martinez appears headed to the playoffs.
After making three minor league rehab starts for Philadelphia, he returned to the majors Aug. 12 and beat the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. Martinez's second outing, his home debut with the Phillies, lasted only three innings because of a 66-minute rain delay.
"This team really surprised me. This team, as intense as they are on the field, doesn't reflect the kind of calm that they are in the clubhouse," Martinez said. "When they come out there it seems like they know they're going to win. It's a great feeling."
It was Martinez's first visit to Citi Field, the Mets' new $800 million ballpark. He spoke fondly of his "beloved" Shea Stadium and said he was eager to see the New York fans again.
"I think it's going to be like always. I mean, mutual respect and fun," Martinez said. "They're going to get a great chance to see me in a different way. Healthier, more focused, more relaxed."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press