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05/30/08 7:45 PM EST

Pedro makes long-awaited return

First start since April will come on Tuesday, against the Giants

NEW YORK -- Considering how hard Pedro Martinez worked to get back to this point, he's certainly not about to think about retirement. Not this year and not even next year, despite recent reports to the contrary. As long as he can pitch, he will play.

"If my arm is gone, or I have the same thing that I had done a year ago, I'll hang 'em," Martinez said. "I'm not going to go through rehab again. But if I'm healthy -- I said it clear, if I'm healthy -- I'd like to play for two or three more years."

The Mets would be satisfied with just this one, the final year of his contract. And now, after Martinez missed nearly all of the season's first two months with a left hamstring strain, they're about to get their wish. Martinez rejoined the Mets on Friday and is officially set to come off the disabled list and start against the Giants on Tuesday.

After that, he said, he'd like to remain in the rotation and become a leader both on and off the field. But after the season, he's still not quite sure.

Though most of Martinez's future will hinge on his arm, some will depend on his father, who remains stricken with illness in the Dominican Republic. Martinez took a detour from his rehab to visit his father earlier this month, and could eventually do so again.

"My family plays a big role," he said. "Even though I would like to be with the team sometimes, it's hard for me not to be with my family during these crucial moments. If I have to stop playing, or if I have the opportunity to stop playing for one month or two months to support a family member or something, I will do it. But that doesn't mean I'm retiring. If I'm healthy, I still believe I can get people out."

That's something that the Mets, until this week, haven't been doing with much sustained success. They lost Martinez -- their projected ace until Johan Santana came along -- during the second game of the season, and proceeded to play average baseball over the ensuing two months. Martinez couldn't have prevented all of that, but he's certain he could have painted over some of the uglier days and losses.

"I'm not going to say the problems would have gone away, but I will say it would have been a lot looser than it was," he said. "Being a veteran and being as loose as I am, and being so loud, I think it would have helped my teammates keep their cool."

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.