Mets ace continues to progress

By wire services
Published March 12, 2006

PORT ST. LUCIE - Mets right-hander Pedro Martinez threw 81 pitches off a mound during a bullpen session Saturday as he continues to recover from a right toe injury.

"It felt pretty good," Martinez said. "I didn't throw too many at once. It's not time yet. It's just time to work."

It is still uncertain if Martinez will be ready for opening day. Martinez took three breaks during the session in what he said was an attempt to better simulate a game.

He threw 62 pitches off a mound Wednesday and had a long toss session Thursday.

He said he is still feeling his way through his pitching motion, though, seeing how his toe reacts each day.

"There is going to be a little this and that any time you go to the mound," he said. "It's not always just the shoe. Sometimes my toe is sore, my shoulder is tingling and my elbow is sore. Something always happens. You go on and have great games."

BRAVES: Manager Bobby Cox said Andruw Jones will start in centerfield today. His Netherlands team was eliminated from the World Baseball Classic.

MARINERS: Reliever Julio Mateo left camp indefinitely after learning his older brother died in a car crash in the Dominican Republic on Friday.

NATIONALS: First baseman Nick Johnson agreed to a $16.5-million, three-year extension through 2009. Last year, he hit .289 with 15 home runs, 35 doubles and 74 RBIs.

PADRES: Reliever Doug Brocail had an angioplasty. Brocail, 38, had complained of chest tightness that radiated into both arms. Doctors found a 99 percent blockage of one of three arteries that supply blood to the heart. He is expected to resume exercising in two weeks.

PIRATES: Outfielder Chris Duffy sustained a mild concussion when he was beaned by Curt Schilling. His status is unknown. It was the second time in four days a Pirate was hit in the head by a pitch. First baseman Sean Casey was hit by the Reds' Michael Gosling on Wednesday and returned Saturday.

RANGERS: Outfielder Gary Matthews, who has been slowed by a rib cage injury, is expected to be the designated hitter today and return to full duty later this week.

RED SOX: In his first outing against major-league hitters, Schilling pitched three perfect innings before allowing four runs in the fourth. He said he "felt good" after allowing four hits in four innings with no walks.

ROYALS: Centerfielder David DeJesus signed a five-year deal with an option for 2011, the first year he will be eligible for free agency. Financial terms were not disclosed. As a rookie last year, DeJesus hit .293 in 122 games.

COACH ATTACKER: The man who tackled Royals coach Tom Gamboa during a game has been sentenced to 57 months in prison for a probation violation related to a burglary charge. William Ligue was originally sentenced to 30 months of probation for two counts of aggravated battery in the September 2002 attack on Gamboa during a White Sox home game. His son, 15, also took part and was sentenced to five years' probation.

Classic resumes today

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - After a scare, the major-leaguers that comprise the U.S. World Baseball Classic roster has a much better grasp of the stakes in international play.

"I was really nervous," said Derrek Lee, the Cubs slugger who homered, doubled and drove in four to help the Americans advance to the second round with Friday's 17-0 rout of South Africa. "You don't want things out of your control."

Now, they've got a clean slate starting today in Anaheim, Calif., against Japan. Mexico and South Korea meet afterward, and the winner of the round robin advances to the semifinals.

After an 8-6 loss to Canada on Wednesday, a complicated system had the United States on the brink of elimination from the inaugural 16-nation tournament. But Mexico handily beat Canada on Thursday to put the Americans in position to move on.

Jake Peavy takes the mound for the Americans against right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka, who led the Pacific League with 215 innings and 226 strikeouts for the Seibu Lions last year.

"I think the intensity is going to pick up," said Ken Griffey, who homered twice and drove in seven against South Africa. "It's going to be a little more exciting, a little more fun."