Dominican team plans for Pedro after first round

NEW YORK -- Pedro Martinez might drop off
the Dominican Republic's team in the World Baseball Classic.

Martinez, who has a toe injury, still hasn't pitched off a mound
in spring training for the New York Mets. He said Thursday he will
miss the first round of the tournament.

"We definitely know he's not going to be available for the first round," Dominican Republic manager Manny Acta said. "The priority is that he's healthy first. He does want to participate, and we do want him to participate."

But that hasn't stopped the Mets and the Dominican team from penciling in Martinez for games later in the tournament.

Acta told the Daily News on Thursday that Martinez is slated for a March 13 game, likely against Puerto Rico or Cuba.

Acta said the Dominican team has received permission from Major League Baseball for Martinez to remain in Port St. Lucie when he's not pitching, minimizing the time Martinez would miss in Mets' camp.

The timetable would set up Martinez to pitch in the March 18 semifinals in San Diego, or more likely the March 20 final on extra rest, should the deep Dominican team advance that far, Acta told the paper.

Martinez said his teammates, and his country, would understand if his injury forces him to withdraw.

"If I'm not going to be like that, I'm pretty sure they'll understand," Martinez told the paper. "I'm just subject to how I feel right now and how quickly I can get on a mound and get ready. I didn't throw as much as I normally do in the Dominican, so that forced me to actually push a little bit. You don't also want to risk your arm or your career trying to get there. You want to do things the normal way."

Martinez, who signed a $53 million, four-year contract with the Mets in December 2004, went 15-8 with a 2.82 ERA last year. He struck out 208 batters in 217 innings spanning 31 starts.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.