Pedro not rushing his return

Pedro feeling good, not rushing return to Mets

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Pedro Martinez was all smiles Wednesday afternoon as he walked through the Minor League clubhouse at the Mets' Tradition Field complex -- and with good reason.

While several of his teammates were busy finishing up their work from an otherwise laconic first day of the club's annual minicamp, Martinez was making a surprise visit to have his surgically repaired right shoulder checked out by the team's training staff. And the news continued to be good for the veteran pitcher. Very good, actually, if you listen to Martinez, who has been at his Miami home for the last two weeks rehabbing the torn rotator cuff he had repaired on Oct. 5.

"I feel good," Martinez said. "I'm getting better and better. I thank God that everything is perfect. I've been working hard. It's been a long period of time, but it's been paying off."

Though he and the Mets are extremely pleased with the progress he's making -- both with his shoulder and his problematic calves -- it doesn't mean he'll be back in the Major Leagues before the All-Star break. Initially, there was some hope of that happening, but Martinez confirmed Wednesday that while he's eager to return, he's not about to jeopardize his health in an effort to shave a few weeks off his rehab time.

"The way I feel, I would say yes [to an early return], but I'm not going to take a chance, to be honest," Martinez said. "I'm not going to take a chance. I'm going to do this one time and I'm going to do it well. I don't want to really get overexcited and expose myself to a difficult situation with no need.

"I was told exactly what I had to do. I'm going to follow that. And I'm going to follow it religiously. And I'm not going to let it go. I'm not going to disobey my program. I'm staying on the exact timetable the doctor predicted."

Martinez, 35, isn't even scheduled to begin throwing until March. So he'll continue to build up strength in his shoulder and work on increasing the strength in his legs. Martinez tore both calf muscles in August and September -- he also suffered a hip injury in Miami on May 25 after beginning the year with toe problems in Spring Training -- before tearing his rotator cuff in Pittsburgh on Sept. 15. That injury wasn't diagnosed until two weeks later.

Martinez says he doesn't want to be overaggressive in his rehab and that he's looking forward to being healthy again this season and beyond. Based on how he looked, he appears headed in the right direction.

"I'm at a good weight, I have good range of motion and I started working my legs way before my arms," Martinez said. "Physically, I'm able to do anything with my legs. They've responded really well."

As an added bonus, Martinez said he was told that if everything went well with his recovery, his velocity might even improve a bit.

"If not, I'll continue to use my head and continue to do what I do, and that's pitch," Martinez said.

Martinez has had rotator cuff problems prior to the October surgery. He elected to rehab his shoulder after the 2001 season with Boston when it was discovered that he had a partially torn rotator cuff. He worked with Chris Correnti, one of Boston's assistant trainers at the time, to build up his shoulder strength. Such a course of action would not have worked now.

"This time it was worse than 2001," Martinez said. "What I did five years ago [rehabbing] paid off. But I never experienced anything like I did last year."

Martinez, decked out in a green collared shirt and jeans, only spoke briefly on Wednesday. He arrived at the complex shortly after 2 p.m. but was headed to the Dominican Republic later in the afternoon with Jeff Wilpon, the club's chief operating officer, general manager Omar Minaya and third baseman David Wright.

The troupe was going to the Caribbean to make a donation to the Esperanza Foundation, a non-profit organization that that researches cures for disabling and terminal diseases. Martinez is scheduled to return to Florida on Thursday, where he will continue rehabbing through Spring Training.

Kevin Czerwinski is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.