KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Fernando Martinez admits he was caught off-guard when his agent called in January to give him the news: The Mets had put him on waivers and he'd been claimed by the Astros.
"I was surprised, because I never thought about that. I thought sometimes that maybe they might try to trade me. But that's part of the life, part of baseball. That happens," he said before the Astros beat his former team, 9-5, Sunday at Osceola County Stadium.
Mets manager Terry Collins said the organization never doubted how much ability the 23-year-old has. But it became concerned, because Martinez was hurt so often.
"I hope he's healthy and has a long career," Collins said. "But it was always scary to think that when you called down [to the Minors] to see how he was doing, you always found out he wasn't playing. You know? And I didn't call down just for help. I'd call to see how guys were doing. Invariably, they'd say, 'He's out right now. His knee is bothering him.' Or, 'Gee, he pulled a hamstring.'
"I know his talent. I know he's got great talent. Unfortunately, he's been one of those guys who's had a tough time getting the amount of games that I think you have to have to get ready. In the right spot, if he gets playing time and can stay healthy, he's going to put numbers up. He's a good offensive player. He's got some kind of power."
Martinez said he's lost 15 pounds -- in part to ease the stress on his knees -- and that he expects to remain healthy all season.
"I appreciate that the Mets gave me the opportunity to play in the Majors and to wait for me, because I had a lot of injuries in the past. But I'm happy for now. It's a new start with a new team," he said.
This was the second time Martinez has faced the Mets this spring. He went 0-for-3 against them on March 6, and he was 0-for-3 with three strikeouts Sunday. He conceded that he would have liked to have gotten a hit against them.
"Yeah, man," he said with a wide smile. "That's my job."