Pedro makes return to mound in rehab

Pedro makes return to mound in rehab

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Right-hander Pedro Martinez took another step toward resurrecting his career on Tuesday.

The 35-year-old, who has been working feverishly to overcome Oct. 5 surgery for a right rotator cuff tear, pitched off a mound for the first time in eight months in a remote bullpen area at the team's Minor League complex.

Martinez threw 38 pitches, seven of which served as warmups with the catcher standing up. The Mets divided the session into innings. He pitched 15 in the first inning, and 16 in the second. The initial goal was to throw 25 pitches overall, but Martinez felt so spry he wanted to keep going.

All of his pitches were fastballs, but neither the Mets nor Martinez seemed to care how fast any of them went, because that will be for another time.

For now he was reacquainting himself with a pitcher's mound.

"I was hesitant to actually get to the mound, see how it felt," Martinez said. "I thought I was going to be rushing. But my legs are in really good shape. And Chris [Correnti, his personal trainer] kept telling me I'm fine and to use my legs."

Still, Martinez said he took the first "inning" to feel his way along, trying not to get hurt so early in the process. But by the second "inning," pitching off a mound "felt right at home," he said.

"I'm really excited and happy with the way everything went," Martinez added. "I'm very optimistic the way I feel."

Martinez pitched with former Major Leaguer Randy Niemann, the club's rehab pitching coordinator, watching every move. Also there was Mark Rogow, the Mets' Minor League rehab coordinator, as well as two of Martinez's youthful relatives, though he declined to identify them.

Also there for encouragement were rehabbing pitchers Duaner Sanchez and Juan Padilla, who came up in a golf cart.

"I think he felt good, and that's what we all wanted to see," Niemann said. "We just wanted him to get on the mound and feel confident and get the delivery we all know Pedro has. He got to the point where it felt good."

Niemann cut off the session when he felt that Martinez had satisfied his goal for the day. Niemann said Martinez would pitch off a mound again on Friday if he experiences no setback.

Martinez said that pitching off a mound again -- which he hadn't done since late last September -- moves him into a whole new phase of his training for a possible August return.

"It's probably going to get me into more game-type routines, and running and doing all those things," he said. "Since I started working, I have one thing in mind -- get ready and get healthy. Right now I'm healthy, and I'm not afraid to go out and do things."

Martinez added, though, that the timing of his return will hinge on a green light from his medics. He said that he is through trying to be his own medical advisor after his ill-advised return in September last year probably sealed his need for surgery.

"I wish I could get back tomorrow," he said. "But the doctors will determine when I'm ready to go. I'm taking my time to be ready."

He said that his time away from baseball competition could be a catalyst for bringing him back to the form that produced 206 Major League wins.

"Everybody needs a rest, and I'm a workaholic," he said. "Even though [team trainer] Ray [Ramirez] and the trainers tried to stop me from working, I didn't want to, I refused to. But I'm happy now how everything has been repaired for me to get back. My body has soaked it in really well. The way I've been repaired, there should not be any doubts on anyone's mind [about a successful return]."

Martinez is acutely aware that recovering from rotator cuff surgery is a far more difficult proposition than coming back from Tommy John ligament-replacement surgery. He said that Correnti kept emphasizing that every time he saw Martinez getting tired during his workouts.

"Somebody has to do it," he said of recovering from rotator cuff surgery. "Not somebody. I want it to be me."

He was quick to point out that he was diagnosed with a partial rotator cuff tear in 2001, yet with his workout regimen managed to play five more mostly successful seasons before the surgery.