Pedro to take on Cardinals

After rain washed away the Mets' Tradition Field home opener on Thursday, the Mets will take a trip down I-95 to meet the St. Louis Cardinals in Jupiter, Fla. for Pedro Martinez's first spring start. <P> Martinez, who defeated the Cardinals in Game 3 of the 2004 World Series, will take the hill for the Mets' second game of the spring at 1:05 p.m.

While Martinez isn't expected to go any more than a couple of innings, it's a sure bet that there will be a buzz around Roger Dean Stadium as the eccentric Martinez fires his first fastballs as a Met.

"Anytime Pedro pitches and you're his teammate or his manager you look forward to it because you love to watch him work," Mets manager Willie Randolph told reporters.

GOING HIGH TECH: Top pitching prospects Yusmeiro Petit, Matt Lindstrom and Gaby Hernandez were invited to Rick Peterson's 'magic laboratory' in Birmingham, Ala., the New York Daily News reported.

Using slow-motion cameras which take pictures at 500 frames per second, Peterson's high-tech equipment confirmed what numerous teammates and opponents have thought about Petit: despite not reaching 90 MPH on the radar gun, he keeps the ball hidden longer than other pitchers, giving hitters less time to react.

BACK TO NEW YORK: Felix Heredia suffered numbness and a cold sensation in his pitching hand while making his first appearance of the spring on Wednesday, and was sent back to New York for a precautionary evaluation.

The Mets do not believe that Heredia's malady is extremely serious, although it is cause for concern. Heredia had been throwing exceptionally in side bullpen sessions but struggled to hit the strike zone in his appearance against the Washington Nationals.

"He was blowing on his hand and I said, 'Why is he blowing on his hand? It's not cold,'" Randolph told reporters. "He was a little bit erratic and he had been throwing strikes all spring, on the side, anyway. Anytime it's something to do with a possible circulation problem, that's not good obviously."

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