Pedro hopes to return to starting rotation before end of April

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Pedro Martinez said he hopes to return to the
New York Mets' starting rotation before the end of April, despite general manager Omar Minaya's recent statements that the pitcher was expected back by mid-May or early June.

"We will give everyone the surprise of the month, I think, if things keep going well and there are no further delays," Martinez said in an interview with television channel CDN-37 in the Dominican Republic.

Martinez, who was placed on the disabled list after injuring his left hamstring in his first start of the season on April 1, spent a few days in his native Dominican Republic to work with trainer Ángel "Nao" Presinal and to visit his ailing father. Martinez was due back in Port St. Lucie, Fla., on Wednesday, pending a medical examination of his father.

"I feel a lot better than before. I'm very happy to have spent a few days with Nao and I made the most of my time here working," Martinez said.

Personal trainers such as Presinal are banned from MLB clubhouses after being allegedly linked to the players' use of performance-enhancing drugs. However, major league players are allowed to work with personal trainers outside the ballpark.

"I am surprised with the way I am recovering. It's going much faster than I thought. Everything is moving smoothly," Martinez said. "The Mets know that I'm working and that I will not abandon them. I don't want it to be a long wait like everybody thinks."

Guy Conti, Martinez's longtime confidant and current Mets bullpen coach, told ESPN.com's Amy K. Nelson that Martinez's rehabilitation was going better than expected.

"I was told [by personal trainer Chris Correnti] he's two weeks ahead of schedule; he's anxious to get back," Conti told Nelson. "He'll be back with this team, I would say, four weeks. That's my guess, four weeks.

"I like what Omar [Minaya] said, he said, 'We've got to be conservative, we'll take it one step at a time.' We might as well be conservative, take some time. This thing [division] isn't going to be decided until September."

Martinez, 36, had surgery on his right shoulder in October 2006, and he did not return to the mound until September 2007. The three-time Cy Young Award winner is in the last year of a four-year, $53 million contract signed with the Mets before the 2005 season.

Martinez suggested he may retire at the end of the season if he suffers another arm injury.

"If I end the season healthy I will carry on, but if my arm hurts I will go watch the games on TV in a Dominican bodega," Martinez said.

Enrique Rojas is a reporter and columnist for ESPNdeportes.com and ESPN.com.