Pedro finished for season
Ace out with left-calf tear; El Duque, Glavine to head rotation
ATLANTA -- The Mets' pitching plans for the postseason, amended after Pedro Martinez's conspicuously flawed performance on Wednesday night, now have definition, at least for the first two games of the National League Division Series. And part of that definition is, as the club had feared, no Martinez.
Hours after the club finally got around to the starting assignments -- Game 1, Orlando Hernandez; Game 2, Tom Glavine -- general manager Omar Minaya announced that Martinez would not pitch in the postseason because of a muscle-tendon tear in his left calf, an injury detected via MRI exam Thursday after Martinez had returned to New York for tests. A tear of a muscle in his right calf had been the cause of his month-long late-summer assignment to the disabled list.
While the extent of the new injury was unexpected, Martinez's being unavailable for the postseason didn't come as a shock to the Mets.
"When he walked off the mound [Wednesday] night, I don't think any of us was optimistic he was going to pitch," Glavine said Thursday night after he learned of Martinez's latest malady.
Manager Willie Randolph indicated earlier Thursday that the pitcher he had identified two weeks ago as the Game 1 starter was likely to miss the NLDS and that club wondered how much it could expect from Martinez in subsequent series, should the Mets advance. So when Randolph received word of the new injury, his reaction was characteristically placid.
"You pick up and move on," he said. "I mean, jeez you'd love to have him. But it's not the end of the world. Any time you miss one of your big guys, it stings. But we're a good team."
Or as Glavine said, "You always hear a championship team is more than 25 guys."
After acknowledging Wednesday that he had stressed other parts of his body in his brief and ineffective start against the Braves, Martinez essentially withdrew from the NLDS. He did express hope he might help the Mets in some way -- perhaps in limited relief, perhaps in a one-batter role akin to the one David Cone filled for the Yankees in Game 4 of the 2000 World Series when he faced one batter, Mike Piazza. But Randolph discounted that possibility even before word of the new injury reached him.
Now Martinez, who turns 35 in October, will baseball-incapacitated for four to six weeks with his fourth injury of the year -- the big toe on his right foot in Spring Training, his right hip in June, his right calf in August and now the left calf. Rest with treatment, not surgery, is the course of action he will follow. Minaya suggested the pitcher probably would be outfitted with a boot to reduce strain on the left calf. Martinez wore a boot while he was recovering from the right-calf tear.
Even with Martinez eliminated as a possibility, the Mets specified no starter for Game 3. Instead, the third-game assignment went to the familiar member of the ever-fluid September rotation: TBD. But Steve Trachsel indicated that he had been told unofficially to begin "preparing" as if he will start Game 3.
Martinez's performance on Wednesday, and his perceived but undiagnosed physical problems, forced the club to address the rotation and eliminate some of the uncertainty that had begun to unsettle other members of the staff. Now Hernandez, the Mets' most consistently effective pitcher for the last month, and Glavine, their most (post)seasoned starter know what they had only projected. And Trachsel has less of a chance to be an NLDS wallflower. TBD could stand for "Trachsel becomes definite" some time next week. As of Thursday night, Trachsel said, it came with a one-word proviso -- "unofficially."
The club knows little else about its impending challenge other than its own personnel plans. Neither opponent nor starting date has been determined.
"But it's good to know something," Glavine said.
Another benefit is that the assigned pitchers and assigned starts now align for reasons of proper rest, or something close to it. Hernandez, the winning pitcher in the Mets' 7-4 victory on Thursday, starts Game 1 with either four or five days' rest. Glavine, who starts Saturday against the Nationals, pitches Game 2 with four days' rest. Trachsel now is to start Sunday in the final regular-season game. He would have five days' rest were he to start Game 3.
Glavine, Hernandez and other players assumed the rotation would be revised even before Martinez completed his cameo appearance -- 2 2/3 innings -- on Wednesday. They all saw Martinez strain to pitch competitively. Working with a lame fastball and precious little command, he allowed seven runs on eight hits and two walks.
"We knew he was hurting right from the start," one of them said. "We turned the Pedro page early."
"What are you going to do? If he can't pitch, he can't pitch," Glavine said on Thursday afternoon, when he still was unaware of Martinez' new malady. "Obviously, we would all like for him to be healthy and be able to go out there and pitch the way we envision him being able to pitch. But if he can't do that, then he can't do it." Glavine then almost paraphrased what Billy Wagner said on Wednesday night.
"I don't think that not having Pedro means we can't win," Glavine said. "But there's no question your biggest concern going into a postseason is to have all your guys healthy, and obviously that's not going to be the case for us. We have to deal with it, but I think we have enough pitching to still win."
Other players pointed out that Martinez had missed so much of the season, and that he had fared so poorly when he did pitch, that the team is accustomed to winning with limited contributions from him. Since he won his five April starts, the Mets have lost 12 of his 18 starts.
"Although we'd love to have him, we feel we still have enough," Randolph said.
The manager mentioned other starters "have kept us afloat" and included Trachsel, John Maine and even Oliver Perez in that grouping. Randolph acknowledged Perez still might be on the postseason roster, supporting a whispered concern that developed in the clubhouse when Perez remained in the rotation through last weekend. Players were a tad miffed that Perez, erratic and not too successful, had a chance to pitch in postseason and that Trachsel, the team's leading winner, had been told nothing.
Some Mets believe Martinez's absence may not be so harmful.
"As much as this is not welcome news, now we know where we're at," Glavine said.
After learning of Martinez' prognosis, Glavine repeated what he had said prior to the game.
"I don't want to beat a dead horse," he said, unaware of his unintended play on words.
Martinez was brought to the Mets last year to lead them to the postseason, to be the horse in the rotation. Now his season is dead, just as the team prepares for the franchise's first postseason appearance since 2000. No pun intended.
"We've had a little bit of a cloud of uncertainty, so to speak, coming into [Wednesday], wondering, 'Is he was healthy? Isn't he healthy? What's our rotation going to be? Who's pitching? Who's not pitching?'" Glavine said. "A lot of that stuff goes away now, and we can start focusing."
It was suggested that Martinez's absence would not have great impact on the team dynamic because his interaction with teammates is quite limited. He seldom socializes with teammates. And there was even a silver lining to it, indicated by one player's urging of another to dress more quickly Thursday night as the Mets prepared for the bus-plane-bus trip to Washington, D.C.
"Hurry up," he said. "With Petey gone, the bus will leave on time."
Randolph and Minaya indicated that carrying three catchers on the postseason roster now is likely, so it appears outfielder Michael Tucker and third-string catcher Mike DiFelice will be on the roster along with backup backstop Ramon Castro, and that Lastings Milledge, Ricky Ledee and Anderson Hernandez will not.
Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.