ATLANTA -- Pedro Martinez's return to pitching in the big leagues has been delayed because of the worsening condition of his father.

The Mets pitcher, close to ending his assignment on the disabled list, returned to the Dominican Republic on Wednesday morning after receiving word that the condition of Pablo Martinez had worsened. The Mets had no sense of how the latest development would affect the schedule for Martinez's return to active duty.

The 36-year-old pitcher, on the DL since April 2 because of a left hamstring strain, was to have thrown a bullpen session at Turner Field on Wednesday with manager Willie Randolph and pitching coach Rick Peterson in attendance. The club had sensed Martinez might make his return next weekend when the Dodgers visit Shea Stadium.

But before Martinez's flight from West Palm Beach to Atlanta departed Wednesday morning, he was notified of a serious setback, and arrangements were made for him to return to his native country to be with his 78-year-old father, who has brain cancer. Martinez had been quoted Tuesday in a published report that he was considering ending his career after the current season because of his father's illness and to spend more time with his family in the Dominican.