Report: Pedro won't pitch in Classic first round

Pedro Martinez will not pitch in the opening round of the World Baseball Classic, Newsday reported in Thursday's editions.

Martinez, who acknowledged Saturday when New York Mets camp opened that an injured toe might keep him out of the tournament, told Newsday that he'd still like to join the Dominican Republic team "if everything goes perfectly."

"Without a doubt my country's people expect me to perform, but only if I'm healthy," Martinez told Newsday. "They know in the long run it's better to see me pitch every five days than not at all, even if it's the Classic."

The 34-year-old Martinez played catch but hasn't thrown off a mound since September.

The injury, which makes it painful for Martinez to bend his big toe as he pushes off the pitching rubber with his right foot, caused him to miss his final two scheduled starts last year with the Mets on the brink of playoff elimination.

He said his toe first began bothering him just before the 2004 playoffs with Boston, and he received a cortisone shot. It flared up again last June, and Martinez pitched through it for the rest of the year.

The Mets say they won't try to dissuade Martinez from pitching in the WBC. The Dominican Republic plays its first game March 7 against Venezuela in Kissimmee.

The real worry, of course, is that the pain in his toe could make Martinez alter his delivery and possibly hurt his arm. Minaya said major league teams are insured if players get seriously injured in the WBC.

Martinez, who signed a $53 million, four-year contract with the Mets in December 2004, went 15-8 with a 2.82 ERA last year. He struck out 208 batters in 217 innings spanning 31 starts.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.