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09/25/09 8:44 PM ET

Pedro scratched; Kendrick to make start

Righty's stiff neck feeling better, but errs on side of caution

MILWAUKEE -- If Pedro Martinez absolutely had to pitch Saturday, he said he could.

But with a little less than two weeks before the postseason, Martinez (5-1, 3.32 ERA) sees no reason to risk it. For that reason, he has been scratched from Saturday's start against the Brewers at Miller Park because of stiffness on the right side of his neck.

Right-hander Kyle Kendrick (2-1, 2.70 ERA) will pitch in his place.

"It's not like it's getting worse," Martinez said before Friday's game. "It's getting better. But I don't want to take a chance. I have a chance to pitch when it really matters. I want that chance. I'm not going to throw it away now."

Martinez pulled a muscle in his neck while swinging at a pitch Saturday in Atlanta, where he lasted just three innings. He threw Friday off flat ground, but determined he was not good enough to go.

Fans have floated Martinez's name as a potential closer as Brad Lidge continues to struggle in the ninth inning. Martinez certainly has the mental makeup to close, but at 37 could he handle it?

"I think he can pitch if we give him enough time to warm up," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "I've seen him do it. I've seen him do it when he had a sore arm against us in Cleveland in the playoffs, and he still did pretty good. He beat us."

Martinez seems to need time to get loose, like Manuel said. In the first inning in his eight starts with the Phillies, opponents have hit .341 (14-for-41) against him. They have hit four home runs, accounting for the four runs he has allowed in the first inning.

A pitcher who needs time to warm up -- left-hander Jamie Moyer is such a pitcher -- would not make a great candidate for the frenetic pace of the late innings, when pitchers have to warm up at a moment's notice.

"Their workouts and preparation and everything ... all of that starts on off-days," Manuel said of Moyer and Martinez. "That rest is really important for Jamie. And Pedro is the same way, too. They go through such a conditioning ordeal those four days. And even on the days they pitch they get to the ballpark early. To be able to bounce back, both of those guys might have a tough time being able to do that."

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.