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Coltslaxer32 needs redemption
MIAMI -- This appeared to be the same old Pedro Martinez. He looked the same, at least. He threw the same. But even after spending some quality time on the pitching mound -- the place he's always known best -- Martinez was not entirely unchanged.

"I don't feel like smiling that much," Martinez said. "But I'm pretty sure my teammates understand and everybody understands that my spirit is a little low now."

They also understand that Martinez's pain will ease with time, along with victories and the knowledge that baseball is what his father wanted him to do. Pablo Martinez, who passed away last Wednesday, yearned for Martinez to continue pitching for the Mets.

So the younger Martinez, who spent the past week grieving in the Dominican Republic with his family, is fully prepared to do precisely that on Friday.

"It hasn't been easy," Martinez said. "But now it's time to work."

Though he has played all season under weight of the knowledge that his father was close to death, Martinez could not have anticipated the phone call last Wednesday that told him of Pablo's passing. Martinez slipped out of Shea Stadium not long after receiving the call, and did not rejoin the Mets until now.

"All the distractions were a little uncomfortable to deal with," Martinez said. "But now I know he's at peace. He's resting, and not in any pain. I really had my mind with him at the time, but now I know he's not there. And one thing he got to tell me before he died was that he wanted me to go back and play baseball."

So Martinez will pitch for the Mets Friday night in Houston, a move made official when the team optioned Willie Collazo back to Triple-A on Tuesday. Martinez, who had been on the bereavement list, will throw only 80 pitches due to the fact that he has not started a game since July 12. But his mere presence should be enough to boost the Mets.

Martinez's bullpen session Tuesday was designed to gauge how he might respond from this latest stretch of inactivity. Martinez hadn't even touched a baseball in a week, and due to a groin injury suffered before his father's death, had thrown off a mound only twice since his July 12 start against the Rockies. But he came out of Tuesday's session feeling "pretty good," and convinced that he was plenty ready to start on Friday.

"I'm hoping," Martinez said. "That's all I can do."

The Mets had originally toyed with the idea of giving Martinez some relief work during Tuesday's game against the Marlins, but nixed that plan when manager Jerry Manuel couldn't find an ideal place to slot him into the bullpen mix.


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