Mets' Sanchez throws in majors for first time since '06 after coming off DL

NEW YORK -- Duaner Sanchez didn't want to wait any longer. After nearly two years out of the majors, the New York Mets reliever got his wish to return to the mound the day he was activated from the disabled list.

Sanchez, who separated his throwing shoulder in a July 2006 taxi accident, pitched a scoreless ninth inning against the Washington Nationals on Tuesday.

With the Mets leading 6-0, Sanchez came in to a loud ovation, trying to soak in every moment. He allowed a single to the second batter, Wily Mo Pena, then struck out Ronnie Belliard swinging on three pitches. He got Rob Mackowiak to ground out to first to end the game.

The 28-year-old right-hander was the primary setup man for closer Billy Wagner before the accident.

"Now it's out of the way," Sanchez said. "Now we just go back to everything else."

Sanchez had figured he'd be in this position a year ago. He underwent surgery after the accident and tried to return during spring training in 2007. But he felt a pop in his shoulder, and that resulted in another operation.

Though it turned out that Sanchez had the opportunity to get in the game with a comfortable lead, manager Willie Randolph insisted he would have been confident using him in a tighter situation.

"I didn't really make the move to find him a soft spot," Randolph said.

Jose Reyes also returned to the Mets' lineup and had four hits. The All-Star shortstop and leadoff hitter missed the previous two games with a strained left hamstring.

Sanchez was 5-1 with a 2.60 ERA in 49 appearances for New York in 2006. After he pitched on consecutive days for Triple-A New Orleans last weekend with no ill effects, Sanchez and the Mets knew he was ready.

The Mets optioned right-hander Carlos Muniz to New Orleans to make room for Sanchez.

Regarding another injured Mets pitcher, general manager Omar Minaya said the initial prognosis for Pedro Martinez hasn't changed. The Mets said April 2 that Martinez would be sidelined four to six weeks with a mild strain of his left hamstring. Martinez will be evaluated by doctors early next week, Minaya said, but he wouldn't speculate on when the three-time Cy Young Award winner would return.