Plax 4 Prez Posted July 28, 2006 Share Posted July 28, 2006 Pedro returns as Mets visit Atlanta New York (60-41) at Atlanta (48-52), Friday, 7:35 p.m. ET Pedro Martinez will make his return to the Mets on Friday after a month-long absence, pitching the opening game of a three-game series against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field. Martinez last started for New York on June 28 at Boston's Fenway Park in what was a not-so-happy homecoming for the former Red Sox ace -- Martinez allowed eight runs (six earned) in three innings against his old teammates. After that start, he was placed on the disabled list retroactively with inflammation in his right hip, and his return to the Mets was curtailed briefly by a bout with food poisoning. He threw an 80-pitch bullpen session at Shea Stadium last weekend, and reports from that session seemed positive enough. "If it wasn't good, I wouldn't go [Friday]," Martinez said this week. Speaking to reporters this week, Mets manager Willie Randolph lent some credence to the idea that Martinez's midseason stint on the disabled list could pay dividends later in the season. His absence from the rotation hasn't impacted the club's double-digit lead in the National League East, and in the month that Martinez has been on the shelf, the Mets have been able to take looks at young pitchers like John Maine and Mike Pelfrey, both of whom have shown flashes of dominance and promise for the team's future. It is that cushion, of course, that provides the Mets with the ability to look past a series with the Braves, if they so desire. This upcoming road trip isn't about just Atlanta -- several Mets also mentioned looking forward to their three-game series at Florida -- and that alone is an indication of how things have changed. "I don't think we're going to treat Atlanta or Florida any differently than we treated Houston or Chicago," third baseman David Wright said. "We're trying to go in there and focus on what we need to do. "We're not looking in the rearview mirror or worried about what Atlanta does, what Florida does. We're worried about what the New York Mets do. And as long as we take care of business, we control our own destiny." Indeed, Friday's game won't feature a playoff atmosphere, as some Turner Field tiffs have. This one is purely and simply Pedro's return, a tune-up start to evaluate where the Mets' ace is, and how to proceed with a muddled six-man pitching rotation. "I really don't think that, in this start, if he doesn't pitch well, it's a big red flag or anything," Randolph said. "He hasn't been on the mound for a month, right? You can't expect him to be razor-sharp. If he comes out of that start and says his hip doesn't bother him, that's all I really care about." That said, the Mets are elated to have Martinez back, and particularly for a series against the Braves, who have staged an impressive return to the playoff picture. The extra boost of adrenaline Martinez can provide is always welcome within the confines of the Mets' clubhouse. "He just helps us mentally," said outfielder Cliff Floyd. "He's fun, he gets us going, and he keeps us in the game. He's a fast-paced type of dude. The fans love it. It's exciting. The fans hate him on the road and love him at home." If Atlanta is going to defy the numbers and fight back toward October, a good place to start would be against the Mets, who already seem to have forgotten how much the franchise once struggled within the confines of Turner Field. As Wright noted Wednesday, "What's in the past is in the past -- this is 2006," and the Braves no longer hold much of an intimidation advantage over the Mets when their plane tickets are stamped to the state of Georgia. "I don't think there's any significance going to Atlanta," Randolph said. "Obviously, we're going there and we want to play well and beat them up a little bit." Pitching matchup NYM: RHP Pedro Martinez (7-4, 3.45) Martinez makes his return from the disabled list after missing nearly a month with inflammation in his right hip and, later, food poisoning. Martinez made his last start on June 28 at Fenway Park and was roughed up for eight runs (six earned) against his former teammates. He has started twice against the Braves this season, going 2-0 with a 3.29 ERA in those games. ATL: LHP Horacio Ramirez (5-3, 4.04) Ramirez is coming off a no-decision on Sunday against the Philadelphia Phillies, but he pitched well, limiting the NL East rival club to one earned run over seven innings. He has allowed three or fewer earned runs in eight of his past 10 starts. This will be his first start against the Mets in 2006. Player to watch Go figure -- Marcus Giles seems to hit Martinez pretty well. The scrappy Atlanta infielder has gone 6-for-16 (.375) with two doubles against the Mets' ace. Giles has been fighting a thumb injury recently and is batting just .249 this year, though. On the Internet MLB.TV Gameday Audio • Gameday • Official game notes On television • WB11 On radio • WFAN 660 AM, WADO 1280 AM (Español) Up next • Saturday: Mets (RHP Orlando Hernandez, 6-8, 5.40) at Braves (RHP Tim Hudson, 8-8, 4.87), 1:20 p.m. ET • Sunday: Mets (LHP Tom Glavine, 11-4, 3.69) at Braves (LHP Chuck James, 4-1, 3.53), 1:05 p.m. ET • Monday: Off-day • Tuesday: Mets (RHP Steve Trachsel, 9-5, 5.14) at Marlins (TBA), 7:05 p.m. ET Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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