Mets Say Martinez Out for Postseason

Friday, September 29th 2006, 8:57 am
By: News On 6

ATLANTA (AP) _ The New York Mets were worried about Pedro Martinez's right leg. As it turns out, his other leg will keep him from pitching in the playoffs. Martinez's injury-plagued season came to an end Thursday _ less than a week before the start of the postseason _ when an exam showed he has a torn tendon in his left calf muscle.

``It's going to be sad because he's not here,'' Julio Franco said after the Mets' 7-4 victory over Atlanta, which snapped a four-game losing streak. ``But we have to do it with the guys we've got, like we've been doing it the whole season.''

Instead of pitching Game 1 in next week's NL division series, Martinez will be in the early days of a four- to six-week recovery period. While surgery won't be necessary, there's no chance of the three-time Cy Young Award winner pitching again in 2006, even if the Mets make it all the way to the World Series.

The Mets managed to win their first NL East title since 1988 with Martinez (9-8) battling injuries most of the season. He was bothered in spring training by a sore toe, went on the disabled list at midseason with an ailing hip, then spent another month on the DL late in the year with a sore right calf.

``There was a time in the middle of the season when he went on the DL for the first time that you kind of had that feeling of 'uh-oh,''' pitcher Tom Glavine said. ``But we found a way through it. We played OK, and once we showed ourselves we could maintain, it was OK.''

Indeed, even though Martinez failed to win 10 games for only the second time in his 14-year career, the Mets wrapped up the division title with nearly two weeks left in the regular season. They'll be a strong favorite to reach the World Series from a league that won't have another playoff team with 90 wins.

But, with Martinez out, New York appears to have one glaring weakness: starting pitching. Beyond Hernandez (11-11) and Glavine (14-7), the other potential playoff starters are Steve Trachsel, whose 15 wins are mitigated by an ERA of nearly 5.00, and six-game winner John Maine, a rookie.

``Losing a marquee name, that always hurts,'' closer Billy Wagner said. ``But it's time for Trachsel or Johnny Maine to step up and be that marquee pitcher.''

After getting knocked around in his final start of the regular season, a 13-1 loss to the Braves on Wednesday night, Martinez returned to New York for an MRI exam. It showed a muscle tear in his left calf.

``He did mention (Wednesday) that he felt some pain in the other leg,'' general manager Omar Minaya said.

Orlando Hernandez will start Game 1 in the best-of-five division series, the slot that was supposed to go to Martinez. Glavine will go in Game 2.

Manager Willie Randolph said he hasn't decided on the rotation beyond the first two games at Shea Stadium.

``We've had a little bit of a cloud of uncertainty wondering: Is he healthy? What's the rotation? Who's pitching?'' Glavine said. ``A lot of that stuff goes away now. We can start focusing on who the guys are who are here, who are going to be able to pitch, who are going to try to help us win. That is going to be helpful for us mentally.''

Martinez lost his last four starts _ the first when his right calf began hurting, the last three after coming off the DL. He looked downright awful against the Braves, giving up eight hits, seven runs and two homers in 2 2-3 innings.

``It's taken a lot away from me: my confidence and the location of my pitches,'' Martinez said before leaving Atlanta. ``When you don't have the legs to push off and create velocity and locate your pitches, you're in trouble. And I can't locate right now.''

When Martinez first strained his calf muscle, he didn't think it was that big a deal. Now he knows better. The right-hander posted a 16.97 ERA over his last four starts, giving up 22 hits and 20 earned runs in 11 2-3 innings.

``It affects my shoulder, it affects my legs, it affects my back. It affects everything, really,'' he said. ``Those legs are everything. Without them, it's impossible to get the result you want.''