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Notes: Pedro could debut Sept. 8 or 9

Notes: Pedro could debut Sept. 8 or 9

PHILADELPHIA -- The figure on the Mets' horizon, as high profile a September callup as they ever have had, came into sharper focus Wednesday afternoon, when the club added more definition to its plans for the return of Pedro Martinez. Without official word, it now is quite probable Martinez will make his 2007 debut against the Astros at Shea Stadium either Sept. 8 or 9.

That likelihood developed when general manager Omar Minaya indicated Martinez is all but certain to make one more rehab start, probably Monday, after auditioning for the big league staff in Atlanta on Friday in an ordinary bullpen session. As always is the case with Martinez -- and with the Mets as well -- nothing is definite. But the plan is a bullpen session Friday, rehab start three days later and a start for the big league team during its next homestand, emphasis on home.

The site of the Monday rehab start will be either Brooklyn or Binghamton, the respective home cities of the Mets' affiliates in the Class A New York-Penn League and the Double-A Eastern League. Chances are Brooklyn will be the choice for reasons or convenience. Emphasis on home.

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The Mets' Triple-A New Orleans affiliate plays Monday, too, but in Texas. The Mets' affiliates in other leagues will have completed their seasons by Monday.

Minaya said the change of plans -- to have Martinez "throw a bullpen" -- was made because "it's time to incorporate Pedro into the team. ... The coaches are anxious to see him. I think the players are, too. And he should be. It's just different, being with your teammates."

Martinez made has fourth rehab start Monday in Port St. Lucie, Fla., allowing one unearned run over six innings.

Humber or Pelfrey to start Saturday: With Brian Lawrence returned to Triple-A and unavailable to pitch Saturday, the Mets will start Philip Humber or Mike Pelfrey, probably Pelfrey, against the Braves in the second game of their series in Atlanta. It almost certainly will be the last time the rotation will turn without Martinez.

So whether Humber or Pelfrey starts Saturday, the need for a fifth starter probably won't exist for more than a day.

Pelfrey is the more likely of the two, though Humber's recent work has prompted the Mets to put aside his inexperience -- Humber made his only two big league appearances, both in relief, both one inning last season -- and consider him. Pelfrey, Humber's friend, has more experience -- 70 innings in 14 appearances, 13 starts in two seasons. But much of it has been experience on losing. His '07 record in 0-7 in nine starts and one relief appearance.

Pelfrey's start for the Mets' Triple-A New Orleans affiliate Tuesday was limited to 43 pitches -- he pitched 2 2/3 innings against Oklahoma City -- so he might be ready for Saturday. He had missed his previous start because of arm fatigue.

Humber had been removed from his most recent start because he had been struck by a batted ball.

Where has all the offense gone? Through Tuesday, the Mets had scored twice in each of three games, all losses. They had three previous episodes of comparable MIA offense in their first 128 games. They scored five runs in three games against the Braves, but won once May 22-24; lost once to the Diamondbacks and twice to the Phillies, June 3-5, scoring five runs and endured a three-game sweep in Los Angeles on June 11-13, scoring five runs.

Through Tuesday, the Mets had played 13 games against the Phillies, scoring two runs five times and losing all five games. They scored three runs in their two other losses to to the Phillies. And it's not as thought they've had this offensive breakdown against the 1999 Braves. Through Tuesday, the Phillies had the third highest ERA in the league, 4.77. Their ERA against all other teams was 4.88; against the Mets it was 3.68.

The Phillies had allowed three or fewer runs in 35 percent of the 118 games they had played against other teams through Tuesday, and in 54 percent of the games they had played against the Mets.

Then there is this nugget: Only the White Sox -- last in runs in the American League -- have scored fewer runs in two successive games in Citizens Bank Park this season than the Mets scored in the first two games of the series.

This date in Mets history -- Aug. 30: The Mets faced Sandy Koufax for the 20th and last time on this date in 1966 at Shea Stadium. And they beat him for the second time. Yes, it was an unusual day. With Bob Friend, a longtime starter, pitching 7 2/3 innings in relief of starter Tug McGraw, was the winning pitcher in the 10-4 victory that delighted -- and stunned -- 50,840 Shea patrons. The Mets scored six times in two-plus innings against Koufax, who had beaten them 17 times. ... Donn Clendenon hit 12 home runs in 202 at-bats with the Mets after being traded by the Expos on June 15, 1969. The one he hit off Gaylord Perry in the 10th inning on this date produced a 3-2 victory at Candlestick Park that kept the Mets four games behind the first-place Cubs. Only Art Shamsky (14 in 303 at-bats) and Tommie Agee (26 in 565) hit more home runs than Clendenon did for that Mets team.

Ron Darling pitched a five-hitter in the 2-1 victory at The Stick that put the second-place Mets within two games of the first-place Cardinals on this date in 1985. Howard Johnson's double in the ninth inning against Mets nemesis Mike Krukow -- he had a 22-7 career record against them -- produced the decisive run. ... The Mets had four 1-0 victories among their 100 victories in 1988. Bobby Ojeda was the winning pitcher in three of them, including one against the Padres at Shea on this date. All three were complete games. ... Edgardo Alfonzo had six hits and 16 total bases and scored six runs -- all club records -- and five RBIs in the Mets' 17-1 thrashing of the Astros at the Dome on this date in 1999. He equaled the club record for home runs with three.

Coming up: Orlando Hernandez, the Mets' most effective starter for weeks, pitches opposite Kyle Lohse, who has an 0-2 record in three career starts against the Mets. Game time on Thursday is 1:05 p.m. ET.

Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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