New York, NY (PressExposure) April 12, 2008 -- Pedro Martinez almost retired in a Mets uniform. It could have happened last year, if Martinez, in the midst of a grueling rehabilitation from shoulder surgery, decided to call it quits rather than endure the pain with no guarantees. Two weeks into spring training, Martinez, was asked about retiring with the Mets. However, he's expected to sign an extension, perhaps even before his contract expires at the end of this season.
Martinez is ready to begin the final lap of his 4 year contract that he'll get paid $53-million for. And if he regains his Cy Young form, the Mets most likely would enter discussions about a new deal before Martinez reaches free agency. Martinez has openly disclosed his interest in staying with the Mets. However, he prefers to focus on pitching and to let Omar Minaya bring up the subject with him first.
Martinez says that he would talk if they approached him. He has also indicated that he's very thankful and satisfied with the way the Mets have treated him so far. Even though the Mets has Martinez's respect whether they offered him an extension or not, he'll just have to go somewhere else if they don't. Martinez has mentioned that he wouldn't ask them to extend his contract. He's just going to wait and fishing the season.
The Mets would be better off trying to secure Martinez. In the past, the Mets have relied on personal relationships to help fortify the franchise, whether it was Minaya's aggressive courtship of Martinez in 2004 or COO Jeff Wilpon bringing back Tom Glavine for the 2007 season with negotiations that involved little more than a handshake. That could easily happen again with Martinez, as long as he proves himself to be an elite starter before the All-Star break. The Mets would like to see the proof first before placing a large wager on his surgically repaired right shoulder. Minaya says he wants to evaluate Martinez's performance before he makes a decision.
The early reviews of Martinez have been excellent. Martinez impressed fans during yesterday's bullpen session with an impressive display of control and surprising speed. With Wilpon among the spectators, Martinez showed off his curve ball.
Guy Conti was extremely impressed by the session. In addition to being his longtime friend, Conti is Martinez's personal pitching guru, and no one in the organization knows him better. It was Conti who believed that Martinez would be effective when he returned last season and he is even more optimistic 6 months later. Conti says that Martinez is always telling him not to wish him luck but rather wish him good health and he'll make his own luck.
Martinez will make his first start March 6th against the Nationals in Viera. The date is unusual because it's one of the Mets' few night games. Martinez seems to be welcoming the opportunity without worrying about his upcoming free agency. He knows he has to prove that he's healthy and worthy of another contract. The Mets probably needed him more than he thought. Last season was more about survival for Martinez. However, this year Martinez started a completely different mentality. He has people believing he could win a 4th Cy Young Award.