People close to Martinez are whispering that the injury, while not entirely cured, is nothing severe. Yet, by treating it as such, Pedro and the Mets will have the perfect “out” from the World Baseball Classic in March.
Friends say Pedro isn’t crazy about pitching in the tournament, but has no way of taking himself off the roster without incurring the wrath of the entire Dominican Republic. Martinez saw how heavily Alex Rodriguez was being leveraged by Dominican officials, and realized he couldn’t win that fight, either.
The exemption, of course, is an injury. By claiming he’s not game-ready, the Mets will be able to play the role of the heavy and keep Martinez off the Dominican roster, the same way the Yankees blocked Jorge Posada, Randy Johnson and Mike Mussina.
The only difference is that unlike the Yankees, who are uniformly opposed to sending their players to the WBC, the Mets thus far have openly endorsed the concept. General manager Omar Minaya repeatedly has said a worldwide tournament is good for the sport.
But that enthusiasm goes only so far. The Mets will insist the idea of keeping Pedro in Port St. Lucie in March is theirs. This will allow Martinez to cast himself as the victim of overcautious ownership.