Baseball

Phillies gamble Pedro's not done

Pedro Martinez promised to put on quite a show when he returns to the majors with the Philadelphia Phillies.

The NL East leaders are hoping it will be a vintage performance.

Martinez finalized a $1 million, one-year contract with the Phillies on Wednesday, and can earn up to $1.5 million in incentives. The three-time Cy Young Award winner hasn’t pitched since last season and won only eight games in 25 starts over his final two seasons with the Mets.

“I might surprise you, I might not,” Martinez said. “It’s going to be really fun to go find out.”

The Phillies are hoping Martinez has enough left to help them repeat as World Series champions. His dominating 20-win, 200-strikeout seasons are well behind him, but a healthy Martinez could provide a boost to a starting rotation that has been hit hard by injuries.

“I don’t expect to be the same Pedro that I was when I was 26,” the 37-year-old right-hander said. “There’s a lot of innings I’ve pitched since then. It’s not the same, but I still feel like I can still bring something to the table.”

Martinez will need at least a few starts in the minors before he’s ready to join Philadelphia’s depleted rotation. The eight-time All-Star was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a shoulder strain but will be with the Phillies for their four-game series in Florida beginning Thursday.

General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said Martinez could pitch for the major league team in two to three weeks.

“Of course there’s some risk here,” Amaro said. “But we’d rather risk it on someone of his caliber and who knows how to win.”

The risk stems from Martinez’s age, his 2,700-plus career innings and three consecutive injury-riddled seasons that derailed his career in New York. He made frequent trips home to the Dominican Republic last year to visit his dying father, an emotional burden he couldn’t shed once he got to the ballpark.

“The last few years have been horrible,” Martinez said. “I’m not saying horrible because of the results. I haven’t felt the way I wanted to feel. I wasn’t the same Pedro you were accustomed to seeing.”

The free agent pitched in the World Baseball Classic before this season. He went 5-6 with a 5.61 ERA for the Mets last year, and won only 32 games for them over the life of a $53 million, four-year contract.

“I think I was too brave sometimes, or stupid sometimes, for pitching not in the regular health that you should have been in,” Martinez said. “Being a veteran, you should know that. Sometimes your desire, your inner thoughts about competing and the way you feel about competing, drags you to do sometimes things that you shouldn’t do.”

Martinez was upbeat, cracked jokes and told amusing stories in a wildly entertaining 45-minute press conference that ended with him holding his No. 45 jersey.

He said he was picky about what team he pitched for, and spurned other organizations to pitch for the Phillies. Martinez hoped the Mets would show interest, but understood why they passed.

“I didn’t do as well as I wanted to,” Martinez said. “I’m pretty sure they know it.”

The defending World Series champion Phillies lead the division by four games over Florida despite dealing with injuries in their rotation. Brett Myers had hip surgery in June. Antonio Bastardo, who replaced Myers, landed on the disabled list after making five starts. They have used nine starters through 86 games. They used only seven starters last season.

Martinez is 214-99 with a 2.91 ERA in 17 seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Montreal, Boston and the Mets. He helped Boston win the World Series in 2004.

He won the Cy Young Award in 1997, 1999 and 2000, and has led the AL in ERA, wins and strikeouts.

All-Star ratings slip

The All-Star game’s television ratings are down slightly from last year.

Fox network said that the American League’s 4-3 win Tuesday night earned an 8.9 fast national rating and 15 share. That’s down 4 percent from the 9.3/16 for the first nine innings of the 15-inning marathon in 2008.

Ratings were up 3 percent for the pregame show, which included President Barack Obama throwing out the first pitch.

Ratings represent the percentage of all households with televisions, and shares represent the percentage of all homes with TVs in use at the time.

Short hops

Pittsburgh Pirates reliever Tyler Yates, 31, has undergone right elbow surgery and will miss the rest of the season. Yates, who had surgery on the same elbow in 2002, isn’t expected to resume throwing for five to six months. … The Minnesota Twins are recalling right-hander Kevin Mulvey from Triple-A Rochester and optioned catcher Jose Morales to Rochester.

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