Martinez close to making rehab start

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Pedro Martinez is moving closer to getting back on the mound.

The Philadelphia Phillies' new right-hander took the first step Monday toward making a rehab start as he prepares for a return to the major leagues.

"I'm ready, I'm ready," the three-time Cy Young Award winner said after throwing long toss. "I did it [throwing] in the Dominican, now I am ready to do it here."

The 37-year-old Martinez, who last week signed a one-year, $1 million contract with the Phillies, is on the 15-day disabled list because of a shoulder strain. Philadelphia is mapping out a plan to get him back in the big leagues.

"Now I am going to get into a regular routine," said Martinez, who last pitched in the World Baseball Classic for the Dominican Republic. "Throw a simulated game, a side session and from there do any work to get into a game."

Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. was in Clearwater to watch Martinez's throwing session.

"We'll try and get him up on the mound [Tuesday] and see how he feels, then progress accordingly," Amaro said.

Martinez was medically cleared to pitch in a simulated game on Tuesday.

Class A Clearwater is on the road until Sunday, when the team will face the St. Lucie Mets. That could be the stage for Martinez's first rehab start.

"We haven't made any final decisions as when he is pitching yet," Amaro said. "He's kind of day to day, and when we decide he is going to get up on the mound and ready to throw a rehab we will be sure to let people know."

Amaro declined to discuss the Phillies' interest in acquiring Toronto ace Roy Halladay, who could be available before baseball's July 31 trade deadline.

"We don't talk about other teams," Amaro said. "I know we are trying to improve our club. If we can do it in the rotation or the bullpen that is probably our biggest priority."