Martinez has encouraging throwing session

BOSTON -- Red Sox ace Pedro Martinez threw more than 50
pitches in the bullpen without difficulty on Saturday and could be
ready to return to the rotation early next week.

"Feeling better, but not yet,'' said Martinez, a favorite for
his fourth Cy Young Award before missing his last two starts with
hip and groin injuries.

Martinez threw at a leisurely pace while being watched by Red
Sox coaches before Boston's game against the Toronto Blue Jays.

"Everything was positive,'' Red Sox manager Grady Little said.
"We'll make a decision tomorrow. He won't start on Monday but we
feel good about Tuesday or Wednesday.''

Martinez is 17-4 with a 2.22 ERA. He missed his last start
against the New York Yankees, scheduled for Tuesday, and was
originally slated to return on Sunday for his normal spot in the

But it has become less important for him to rush back as the Red
Sox fell out of the playoff race. They entered Saturday's game 7½
games behind Anaheim in the AL wild-card standings.

"We feel good about the way he threw today, and he'll be
pitching very soon,'' Little said. "Our No. 1 concern is his arm,
and we're not going to do anything that would jeopardize that.''