Pedro Martinez strikes out nine in rehab start

August 5, 2009 7:59:36 PM PDT
Pedro Martinez recorded nine of his first 12 outs by strikeout and worked six innings for the Double-A Reading on Wednesday night, in what could have been his final rehab start before joining the Philadelphia Phillies. "I hope so," Martinez said. "It's not up to me to decide that. I hope this is my last one, and I hope that I am able to make improvements from here to the bullpen session."

In his best start since signing a one-year deal on July 15, the 37-year-old Martinez allowed three runs and five hits without walking a batter against the New York Yankees' Trenton affiliate. He finished with 11 strikeouts.

"I'm making improvements as I go on, and that's what we want. Health-wise, my shoulder is fine, my arm is fine. I'm responding good between starts," he said.

In that first four-inning span in which he struck out nine, Martinez gave up two hits, including a home run to shortstop Eduardo Nunez.

Overall he looked free and easy, recording first-pitch strikes to 18 of the 23 batters he faced. He threw 82 pitches - 60 strikes. In three starts for Class A Clearwater, Triple-A Lehigh Valley and Reading, Martinez has given up seven earned runs and nine hits in 12 1-3 innings.

Martinez went 5-6 with a 5.61 ERA in 20 starts for the Mets last season. In March, he pitched for the Dominican Republic team in the World Baseball Classic, working six innings of scoreless relief in two games but went unsigned.

The Phillies immediately placed Martinez on the disabled list due to a right shoulder strain after signing him and has since traded for 2008 AL Cy Young Award winner Cliff Lee. Adding Martinez, a three-time Cy Young winner, will force Philadelphia to adjust a rotation that includes Lee, World Series MVP Cole Hamels, Joe Blanton, J.A. Happ and Jamie Moyer. Though he began the season in relief, Happ has been one of the Phillies most effective starters this season.

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