Martinez withdraws from Classic

Pedro withdraws from World Baseball Classic

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Pedro Martinez will not be on the Dominican Republic's active roster when the team opens its World Baseball Classic schedule, the right-hander conceded Thursday.

Martinez, who has been hampered this spring by an injured right big toe, would have had to be listed on manager Manny Acta's roster by Thursday to compete in the first round of the tournament.

He reported to Spring Training early in hopes of making it to the Classic, but progress has been slow. Martinez still has not faced a live hitter or thrown a breaking ball during camp, putting him behind his teammates and the tournament competition.

"I just can't," Martinez said. "I'm not going to be out there probably not doing what I'm supposed to do and not helping the team the way I could help them. They're better off having somebody that's going to probably help them and give them what they need instead of me, out of shape, risking my career and their performance out there."

Martinez had hoped to join the Dominican Republic roster for the second round of the tournament, but he later learned that rules prohibit players from being added in that fashion. The only way Martinez could become available for the tournament would be if a player was forced to leave the tournament due to injury.

Even that could be a long shot. Martinez has spent much of this spring tweaking a special Nike cleat, hoping to diminish the amount of pain he feels from a right toe that has been battered over the years by his violent pitching motion.

"You can't just go from throwing two bullpens, still limping from a toe, to try and compete at that level," Martinez said. "It's totally unfair to the Dominican Republic, the team and the fans that will be watching the tournament.

"My heart is there, and they know I was trying to get there, but I just can't."

Acta, the Mets' infield coach, said he was not surprised by Martinez's withdrawal. The Phillies' Robinson Tejeda is expected to take a roster spot that might have belonged to Martinez.

"I don't think, physically, [Martinez] is up to the challenge," Acta said. "It would be too much to ask."

Though he appears out for the Classic, Martinez's quest to make it to Shea Stadium for an Opening Day start is progressing.

The ace threw 35 pitches in a bullpen session with catcher Paul Lo Duca on Thursday, firing 20 from a wind up and 15 from the stretch, and appeared to be throwing with greater velocity than in past sessions.

Martinez, who estimated he was throwing Thursday at about 60 percent of his capacity, said he felt less discomfort in his latest session.

"I can assure you that I still feel it right now," Martinez said. "I'm not willing to give up my time to work or give up anything to let the toe heal. I'm going to heal my toe on the field. If it doesn't, I'll deal with it the best way possible."

Bryan Hoch is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.