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Mets open to Pedro's return

Mets open to Pedro's return

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In the wake of the Mets' agreement with Francisco Rodriguez, came seemingly conflicting words from Omar Minaya, the general manager who led the pursuit of the market's most appealing free agent closer. Acknowledging that his team has two voids in its rotation, Minaya said Tuesday, "I think that we still have to fill in those two other areas. We have to upgrade."

He also was quoted as having said, "We have interest in [Pedro Martinez]. We're going to talk to his agent when we have the opportunity."

Upgrading the rotation and an expressed interest in Martinez, as reported by ESPNdeportes, seem to lead in opposite directions. The Mets witnessed firsthand the struggles the former Cy Young Award winner endured in the summer, and members of the club's hierarchy have said privately their interest in re-signing Martinez is weak.

Moreover, the sense is Martinez would be unwilling to accept a contract consistent with the club's assessment of what he can provide. The Mets have had no contact with Martinez since the end of the season.

He was quoted Tuesday in the brief ESPNdeportes report as saying, "I've said it previously, and I have said to my agents, that they do not speak to me of contracts until January."

If the Mets do have interest in re-signing him after his uncharacteristically poor season -- a 5-6 record and 5.61 ERA in 20 starts -- they would prefer to know of his thoughts before the new year.

Martinez, 37, also likely won't decide whether to pitch for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic, the report said, until he reaches a contract agreement with a big league club.

Martinez and others close to him have said several times since the end of the season that he intends to extend his career. Guy Conti, Martinez's confidant and the Mets' bullpen coach during the pitcher's four-year run at Shea Stadium, said in October that Martinez recognizes he is no longer the formidable opponent he was, but Conti believed the role of a No. 4 or 5 starter would be well-suited for his friend.

Martinez was in the Opening Day rotation but he suffered a hamstring strain in his first start, in the second game of the season April 1, and didn't pitch again until June 3.

The 5-6 mark he produced was his first losing record since 1992, when he made his first two big league appearances and lost his only decision. His 5.61 ERA was the highest of his career by more than a run, and only the third one higher than 3.00 since 1996. His ERA in the first inning was 10.35. In subsequent innings, it was 4.85. He allowed seven home runs in the first.

Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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