Pedro Goes Down Again, Injury-Ridden Career Continues
It was merely a matter of time and bound to happen. But even the most pessimistic of Mets fans had to be surprised of the quickness of it all. Pedro Martinez, starter 1A or 2 - depending on who you are asking - gave up four runs in three-plus innings of work and strained his left hamstring, being forced to limp away with assistance and onto the disabled list.
An MRI showed that the righthander had a "mild" strain and will be out for a minimum of four to six weeks. In his place, Oliver Perez will move up one slot in the rotation and the team is looking at its options to fill out the last spot.
"We're going to miss him," manager Willie Randolph told reporters following Wednesday evening's 13-0 rout of the Marlins, in which Perez pitched effectively for the win. "I really feel bad for him more than anything. The players will pick each other up, but I'm sure it's real disappointing for Pedro."
Since coming up with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1992, Martinez has had his share of unscheduled time off from the game. He has not made 30 starts since 2005, his first with the Mets. He missed time in 2006 and 2007 and was brought along very slowly last September and this spring after having shoulder surgery.
Looking at the Mets' starters before this latest setback for Martinez, their rotation was being viewed as very deep and a strength. It still has a lot of talent, but losing your number two starter for an extended period of time has to hurt.
Johan Santana is a true ace and began the year with a gem on Opening Day, a 7-2 win in Florida. Expect nothing but dominance all summer long from the former Minnesota Twin and two-time Cy Young Award winner. Perez - when on - can be very hard to hit. The problem with the crafty lefty is that he is inconsistent and can be as wild as he is good on a bad day.
John Maine has been rock solid since being put in the rotation in 2006 and both he and Perez were 15-game winners a year ago. The number five slot has been in a flux, with the ancient and always-injured Orlando Hernandez and youngster Mike Pelfrey being the candidates. Both had rough springs, with El Duque recovering from offseason surgery to remove a bunion and tinkering with his pitching motion to go easier on his foot. He is currently on the 15-day disabled list.
Pelfrey got lit up during the exhibition season but will get at least one start for the Mets. With the injury to Martinez, he may get more than that by default. The former first round draft pick out of Wichita has been a disappointment in his brief major league career and needs to turn it around quickly before the organization loses more patience with him.
The problem is magnified on the rest of the rotation when Martinez is out. With him, the Mets are the best team in the division, possibly the league. Without him, they are borderline ordinary, but still have a potent offense that should carry them far.
The team has always been built around strong starting pitching, and this group needs to continue that trend. Shea Stadium - and its 2009 replacement, Citi Field, is a pitcher's park. They need to play towards their strengths and keep that edge. A healthy Pedro goes a long way towards that.