Martinez Goes Back to Where It All Began

January 30, 2009

As the sports world anxiously waits for this Sunday’s Super Bowl, the most-watched sporting event in North America, veteran pitcher Pedro Martinez is somewhere in his native Dominican Republic tending to his garden or shaking his hips to the Latin beats of the bachata.

In between, the right hander has found time to sit down with Mets GM Omar Minaya and discuss a possible return to the Mets’ pitching staff.

According to the team’s website, Minaya and the Mets are still interested in Martinez even though they have previously stated otherwise. During his four years with the Mets, Martinez went 32-23 but 15 of those wins came in 2005, the first year of his free-agent contract. Since then, he has struggled with injuries along with the death of his father.

“I think right now Pedro feels the best he’s felt probably since the first year he signed with the Mets,” Pedro’s agent, Fernando Cuza, told the New York Post. “He feels strong. There’s absolutely no aches and pains.”

Mets fans have heard this sentiment before. At the start of last season, Martinez professed that for him the most important thing was that he was healthy. Unfortunately, his first start of the 2008 season ended with a pulled hamstring and a stint on the disabled list. In all honesty, there’s probably no better pitcher in the major leagues who can rely on his past performances to weather a number of storms. For his career, Martinez has a 214-99 record to go along with a 2.91 ERA. Adding in his 3,117 career strikeouts, he could be a strong consideration for the Hall of Fame.

At age 37, Martinez reportedly has yet to receive an offer from any club. Cuza has said that if his client isn’t signed by the time Spring Training opens, he’ll report to the Dominican team for the World Baseball Classic.

“He wanted to use the opportunity of the Classic,” Cuza told the New York Post, “not only as an opportunity to play for the Dominican Republic, which he didn’t do last time, but also as an opportunity to showcase himself, to demonstrate to teams what kind of condition he’s in right now.”

The hurdle for Martinez may be cracking the Dominican’s starting rotation. With the likes of younger, more reliable arms such as Angels 16-game winner Ervin Santana, Reds 17-game winner Edinson Volquez, Twins lefty Francisco Liriano and Cleveland sinkerballer Fausto Carmona, he would probably be fighting for the fifth spot.

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