<
>

F-Mart works out with Escogido

Fernando Martinez took part batting practice Thursday afternoon with the Escogido Lions of the Dominican winter league and pronounced himself in good health, although he is still weeks away from running.

The Mets outfield prospect, who has battled knee and back injuries, said he felt no pain while taking swings for the first time since being examined at the Hospital for Special Surgery on Nov. 30. Martinez had gone for the exam after playing one winter ball game and complaining of right knee pain.

The team announced the 22-year-old Martinez has mild arthritis.

“I didn’t feel anything while swinging,” said Martinez, who also played catch in foul territory after his batting-practice session . “I feel a lot better after that small problem last week. I went to New York to check myself out. I feel very well.”

Martinez said he’s been spending about 30 minutes a day on a stationary bike exercising and building up strength in his ailing right knee, which underwent an MRI.

An Escogido team official said Martinez was in excellent shape, has responded well to all exams and should be sprinting as soon as the Mets allow him to do so.

Martinez thinks he’s three weeks away from doing so, but since the Mets told him he could no longer play this winter, he will not be apart of the Lions’ team as they attempt to win their second straight league and Caribbean Series title. Still, he wants to stay in shape and be healthy when spring training opens in mid-February in Port St. Lucie.

“I have just been working out and staying on the bike," he said. "I feel much better. I can’t play anymore. I have to get ready for spring training. In about three weeks I can start running.”