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07/31/09 11:57 PM ET

Pedro 'very positive' after rehab start

Martinez sharp in four innings before four-run fifth

ALLENTOWN, Pa. -- Pedro Martinez said he was "a little rusty" but felt healthy after giving up five runs in five innings in a Triple-A rehab start on Friday.

In a press conference shortly following his exit from Lehigh Valley's 9-6 loss to Columbus, Martinez cited his discomfort with pitching from the stretch as the main cause of his troubles. Overall, he allowed only three hits, but also three walks and four earned runs in his second Minor League start, leaving after 84 pitches and a rough fifth inning.

"To me, it felt great; the results might not be what everyone wanted, including me," said Martinez. "As far as health and conditions, I feel great, and I see it as a positive day, a very positive day."

The three-time Cy Young Award winner threw 53 strikes, with most of his pitches coming in the fifth, when he surrendered four runs on 35 pitches. He left the game with the Iron Pigs trailing the Columbus Clippers, 5-2.

"I have no idea. I don't know what Ruben's going to do," he said when asked whether he was ready to join the Phillies. "But I know I'm not too far away."

Martinez's next step is to throw a bullpen session Sunday at Class A Lakewood.

"He really threw well from innings two through four," said Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., who is in San Francisco with the big league club. "It looked like he kind of tired in the fifth and pretty much ended up having to go out of the stretch in the fifth inning. His mechanics are a little bit off in the stretch, but overall a very, very positive outing.

"He hasn't had a lot of opportunities to pitch to hitters and compete," added Amaro. "For him to be sharp for four innings is probably a good sign."

Martinez said he needs more innings, whether they come in the Minors or in Philadelphia.

"I definitely need more work to get to the point where I'm going to be in command of all my pitches," he said, downplaying the idea of being moved into the Phillies bullpen to get work. "I'm not going to put any pressure on Ruben or Charlie [Manuel]. I'm an employee here, and you do what your boss tells you to do."

A decision from the boss could come in the next few days, and while Martinez said he could work his way up to a consistent level in the Majors, he said it may not be pretty.

"I might probably struggle a little bit more, depending on how quickly I adjust to it," he said. "Today's game really helped me. I could tell you exactly what went wrong."

Things went wrong in the fifth when he gave up a leadoff ground-rule double to Stephen Head, walked Jason Donald with one out and served up a two-run triple to Niuman Romero to deep center. Michael Brantley walked and Josh Barfield later followed with a sacrfice fly to right, scoring Brantley for the fifth run.

"I felt really good, actually, in that last inning," he laughed. "There were a couple of fastballs there I was very pleased with."

Martinez got off to a rocky start when Brantley hit the 37-year-old's second pitch over the right-field wall. Martinez shrugged it off and retired Barfield, Jordan Brown and Tony Graffanino in order, then settled down for the next few frames.

"I got better, and it showed that I got better as it got going," said Martinez, who downplayed the early home run. "Without a doubt, I'm going to have to pitch a little more to get to the consistent level I'm used to being."

The right-hander's fastball remained consistent all evening -- between 89-91 mph -- and was clocked as high as 93 early on. His changeup helped him strike out four.

"It wasn't fatigue; once I got back to the full windup, I felt totally in command again," said Martinez, who repeatedly said his trouble stemmed from working with runners on base. "For a person who hasn't pitched very often, those things happen. As far as stamina, I felt good -- a lot better from the full windup, though.

"I'm healthy, and I didn't lose anything except from the stretch," he added. "I was uncomfortable."

Martinez struck out Brown with an 80 mph changeup to end his night, capping a mixed start.

"One more out could have made the difference," he said. "It was a below-average outing."

He retired the side in order in the second, popping up Wes Hodges and inducing a pair of grounders from Head and former Phillies catcher Lou Marson.

The right-hander struck out Donald to begin the third, got Romero to ground to first and popped up Barfield after issuing his first walk to Brantley.

Michael Taylor's long two-run homer to dead center in the fourth off Columbus starter Carlos Carrasco briefly gave Martinez a 2-1 lead.

"The curveball is getting better, but I had a hard time controlling my cutter a little bit," he said. "I'm still a little rusty in the stretch position, but everything else was perfect."

The eight-time All-Star threw a 59-pitch bullpen session Tuesday at Lehigh Valley and said he felt "perfect." Martinez told reporters that he only anticipated making one more rehab appearance -- on Friday -- before being ready to join the Phillies next week. That plan is still up the air.

The 5-foot-11 Martinez signed a one-year deal with the Phillies on July 15 for about $1 million and immediately was placed on the 15-day disabled list.

Martinez last appeared in the Majors with the Mets on Sept. 25 when he struck out nine over six innings in a no-decision against the Cubs. He pitched for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic in March, allowing one hit over six innings in two outings.

Danny Wild is an editor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.