04/02/08 12:42 AM ET
Injury KOs Pedro in first Mets start
Righty to get MRI to determine extent of left hamstring strain
By Marty Noble / MLB.com
All of those were expressed in the visiting clubhouse at Dolphin Stadium on Tuesday night after the second game of the Mets' season became a first loss and a resounding setback. The clubhouse was mostly hushed, as it often is after a defeat. In this case, it was the most unsettling type of loss. The Marlins' 5-4, 10th-inning loss was the result of a final-pitch home run by light-hitting Robert Andino against Matt Wise.
The more telling pitch is more likely to become the 57th and final pitch that Martinez threw in the fourth inning. It produced a ground-ball out and, according to manager Willie Randolph, a pop Martinez heard and a twinge he felt. Moreover, it caused a gasp and anxiety throughout the kingdom of the Mets. It was a strained muscle, but it felt like a kick in the head and a punch to the solar plexus all in one.
For all the talent and strengths these Mets have, their lack of depth is equally apparent, so apparent, that no obvious understudy for Martinez or any other starter comes to mind. With Orlando Hernandez already assigned to the disabled list, no genuine replacement exists. Nelson Figueroa? Jorge Sosa? The void won't make the diagnosis worse or the prognosis longer, but it might make the consequences more damaging.
"It stinks. It's tough," reliever Aaron Heilman said after the game. "We don't know the real severity of it. You just hope it's not something that's going to keep him out all year. There's no question no one heals as quickly as they did when you were younger. You just hope it's not that bad."
Martinez is 36 years old, and he has a recent history of leg problems that probably is as long as his hamstring. In 2006 alone, he was undermined by the problematic large toe on his right foot, inflammation in his right hip that cost him a month of the season and torn muscles in each calf -- the second of which led directly to the torn rotator cuff that ended his season prematurely and denied him all but a month last year.
And now, after all that and the quicker than expected but still protracted convalescence from October 2006 shoulder surgery, he is limping again.
"You could tell it was bothering him," said Heilman, who was in the clubhouse when Martinez came in from the field. "He was walking fairly normal ... fairly."
Martinez didn't linger in the clubhouse. He was dressed and gone before the doors were opened to reporters after the game. But the image of him grabbing his left leg lingered.
"I felt like it happened to me," Endy Chavez said, recalling the hamstring tear that crippled his 2007 season.
Catcher Brian Schneider, he of the tender hamstrings in Spring Training and in other seasons, felt it, too.
"Absolutely," he said. "I was feeling it when I realized what it was."
Most eyes in the park were focused on the play that David Wright made on Matt Treanor's roller for the first out in the fourth inning and Martinez's final out. Randolph, the infielders and the team trainers ran to the area in front of the pitcher's mound and conferred briefly with Martinez. The pitcher was escorted to the dugout, but he required no assistance. Sosa replaced him after Martinez had allowed four runs on four hits -- two of them for home runs -- and a walk.
He stood to be the losing pitcher until the Mets tied the score at 4 in the fifth inning.
Having pitched ineffectively in the first two innings, Martinez retired the Marlins in order in the third. But in the first, he hit his first batter, Hanley Ramirez, then surrendered a well-struck, pulled home run by Dan Uggla on a 2-1 pitch. He retired the next three batters, but Luis Gonzalez led off the second inning with a home run to right-center. An infield single by Alfredo Amezaga and a two-out triple by Ramirez put Martinez four runs in arrears before the second inning was complete.
Martinez had pitched merely nine innings in two exhibition-game starts, but he has done substantially more work in other informal circumstances. Against the Marlins' most inexperienced batting order, he hardly looked like the pitcher who had disposed of the Tigers and Nationals so readily in Port St. Lucie, Fla.
During Spring Training, Martinez often had commented on how well his body had responded to his rehab last year and his offseason training. He all but bragged about not using ice after he had pitched.
Martinez had believed the start on Tuesday would constitute another encouraging step in his two-year renaissance. Instead, it was a step -- perhaps a long one -- in the wrong direction.
"You hope it's not bad," Wright said. "Its not a preferred situation. That said, if he goes on the DL, we have to step up. Pedro's an integral part of our team, but we have to believe in the system and go on."
Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.