….and Mets fans start clawing their own eyes out. From the New York Times’ Bill Finley.

Pedro Martínez was scratched from his spring-training start against the Florida Marlins on Friday night because of stiffness in his lower back.

X-rays were negative, and Martínez maintained that the problem was minor and that he would be ready for the regular-season opener on April 4 against the Cincinnati Reds.

“I’m just doing what anybody would do in spring training, play it safe,” Martínez said. “I’ll work on it and will still have time to continue or finish the job we have been doing in spring training. That’s simply it. This is no big deal. Anybody, after a long time in spring training, could get a dead arm, back stiffness, ankle, shin splints, stuff like that.”

Martínez last pitched on Sunday and said he took a rare day off from his work routine on Monday. He said he thought he might have overdone it on Tuesday.

“I should have done a little something Monday,” he said. “Tuesday, I piled up one hour of running, plus the weights, the med ball and all the things you do with your lower back.”

Manager Willie Randolph said Martínez would most likely start on Tuesday against the Washington Nationals. That would allow him to have a full complement of rest before opening day.

Martínez said he would play it by ear in determining when he would pitch again. “Right now, we just don’t want to take any chances of making it any worse and put opening day in any jeopardy,” he said. “Opening day without a doubt. If I play it careful, I will be there.”

General Manager Omar Minaya said the decision to scratch Martínez from his start reflected the team’s conservative philosophy for spring-training games.

“Especially this time of year, this late in spring training, we just want to get out of here healthy and in shape,” Minaya said. “A lot of this has to do with us being more on the conservative side.”