Inside Pitch: Mets optimistic on Pedro

For a player working to rehabilitate an injury, the day after an activity is as important as the activity itself, Mets pitching coach Rick Peterson said. Given that, the Mets are optimistic about Pedro Martinez's return to the rotation.

He threw 80 pitches in a simulated game Saturday, then was in good spirits Sunday at Shea Stadium, putting a target date on his return to the rotation.

"It's really good news," manager Willie Randolph said. "Hopefully, he is on target for Friday."

Martinez went on the disabled list retroactive to June 29 with a sore right hip. However, his return was delayed by a bout with food poisoning, which Randolph said, "could be a blessing in disguise," because it allowed Martinez extra time for the hip to heal.

REPLAY: The Mets did not want to rush Mike Pelfrey into the major league rotation, but holes in the rotation's back end and an injury to Pedro Martinez gave them no choice.

Pelfrey won his first two starts with the Mets, but was rocked Sunday, giving up five runs in 4 1/3 innings in an 8-4 loss to the Astros.

Pelfrey said the difference between where he is now and where he wants to be is his inability to make adjustments in the game when his secondary pitches are off.

"They sat on my fastball," Pelfrey said of the Astros.

NOTES, QUOTES

  • RHP Pedro Martinez had no ill effects on the day after Saturday's 80-pitch simulated game. He is on target to return to the rotation Friday at Atlanta.

  • Bullpen coach Guy Conti underwent an angioplasty Saturday. He could rejoin the team Monday. "We'll keep an eye on him," manager Willie Randolph said.

  • RHP Steve Trachsel (9-4, 4.6) will be seeking his eighth consecutive victory Monday against the Cubs. Trachsel is 2-3 with a 5.47 ERA in five starts lifetime against Chicago.

  • Manager Willie Randolph said the Mets' big lead would enable him to pick his spots to rest players in the second half.

  • The Mets lead the National League with six grand slams, including four since the All-Star break.

    BY THE NUMBERS: 4 -- Mets grand slams in the second half of the season, through July 23.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "The hardest thing about this period is you want to make sure you're patient and not giving up prospects for a two-month window that results in something negative. But at the same time, our main goal is to get into the playoffs, and we're still looking to improve." -- Mets GM Omar Minaya, on the trade deadline.


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