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Saturday, September 1, 2007
Updated: September 2, 5:40 PM ET
Pedro to start Monday vs. Reds, but pitch count will be limited

Associated Press

ATLANTA -- New York Mets pitcher Pedro Martinez, recovering from rotator cuff surgery, will make his first start of the season on Monday at Cincinnati.

Martinez did a great job throwing 53 pitches in a Friday night bullpen session making the Mets' decision to activate him easy. The three-time Cy Young winner underwent surgery last Oct. 5.

"I'm happy to say he's going to take the ball for us Monday in Cincinnati," Mets manager Willie Randolph said Saturday before a game against the Atlanta Braves. "It's great to have him back in the fold."

Randolph said Martinez threw "crisp, nice and free" and said the throws appeared to be "effortless coming out of his hand."

Martinez hasn't pitched for New York this season but has made four rehab starts, including Monday night when he gave up an unearned run and five hits in six innings for the St. Lucie Mets against the Palm Beach Cardinals in a Class A Florida State League game.

Martinez said he will be limited to 75 pitches and no more than 35 pitches in one inning.

"I had to agree to that. I know it's for my own good. It's best for the team, too," Martinez said. "I can't be too greedy. I can't go out there with high expectations."

The activation of Martinez came at a good time for the Mets. Right-hander Orlando Hernandez was hit hard in Thursday's 11-10 loss to Philadelphia and has been bothered by a sore tendon in his right foot. He flew back to New York and had a cortisone shot in the foot. He was expected to return to the team Saturday and his status was day-to-day, the team said.

Martinez said he was not concerned that he has not reached his normal velocity in the minor league games.

"The better you feel, the more you want to push it. I don't want to fall into that trap," said Martinez.

"Pedro's a pitcher, man. Great pitchers execute their pitches," said Randolph.

The bullpen session came after the Mets were coming off a four-game sweep by the Philadelphia Phillies. They had lost five in a row before beating Atlanta 7-1 on Friday night.

The Mets, who led the division by seven games on Aug. 25, were only two games ahead of the Phillies and 5 ahead of the Braves entering Saturday's games.