Notes: All systems go for Pedro
Mets ace excited to start in Cincinnati, albeit with 75-pitch limit
ATLANTA -- Some 48 hours before he is to resume his splendid big league career, Pedro Martinez claimed: "I don't feel any real big emotions," and then he explained why. "The second [start] is going to be bigger than the first."
His words underscored the uncertainty that surrounds his return from rotator cuff surgery, two days short of the 11-month anniversary of the operation. With input from Martinez, the Mets decided Saturday that he will pitch against the Reds on Monday afternoon, setting off a period likely to be filled with scrutiny, wonder and some angst. The club can't know what to expect because Martinez is going where no man has gone before -- a trek of a different kind of star.
And neither does he.
"Nobody has ever done this," Martinez said.
His doctors -- Mets physician David Altchek performed the surgery -- told him they knew of no other pitcher who had pitched within a year of rotator cuff repair.
"Nobody has been able to climb that big mountain," Martinez said. "I'm happy to give it a try."
It will be a full-effort, partial try. Martinez will be restricted to 75 pitches -- about five innings worth for him -- and no more than 35 in an inning. He said the restrictions will make this start unusual.
"Hopefully, the next one will be normal," said Martinez, who promised the Mets he would abide by the limits, as if he could remain on the mound against the will of Willie Randolph. "I had to agree to that. I know it's for my own good. I gave my word. ... I can't be greedy."
A different 300: Saturday is the 300th day the Mets have spent in first place since the beginning of last season and the 120th day this season.
You can never have enough: The pitching staff increased by three Saturday with the additions of Saturday starter Mike Pelfrey, Philip Humber and left-handed reliever Willie Collazo.
Humber, 24, went 11-9 in 25 starts with the Triple-A New Orleans Zephyrs this season. His 4.27 ERA was the 10th lowest in the Pacific Coast League. He allowed three hits and one earned run in his last 13 1/3 innings. Humber pitched 139 innings, allowing 129 hits and 44 walks while striking out 120. The Mets' first-round selection in the 2004 First-Year Player Draft -- third overall -- appeared in two big league games last season, pitching two innings in relief.
Collazo, 27, never has been on a big league roster. He had a 6-5 record with four saves and a 2.46 ERA with the Zephyrs this season. He pitched 98 2/3 innings in 53 appearances, allowing 91 hits and 19 walks. He struck out 69. He had a 6-2 record and a 1.90 ERA in 49 games in relief after making four starts for New Orleans. His ERA in his 20 most recent appearances (36 1/3 innings) was 0.50.
Furthermore: Kevin Mulvey, the Mets' first selection in the 2006 Draft, has been promoted to the New Orleans roster. Mulvey produced an 11-10 record and a 3.32 ERA in 26 starts and 151 2/3 innings with the Double-A Binghamton Mets. ... Ramon Castro (lower back arthritis) didn't begin his rehab assignment with Class A St. Lucie on Friday as he had been expected to do. The St. Lucie season ends Sunday. ... Beating the Braves on Friday night put the Mets' record in the first games of series at 29-15, the best in the big leagues. They have won five of the last eight first games. Their three-year record under Randolph is 90-56.
This date in Mets history -- Sept. 2: Reds rookie Pete Rose hit the first pitch of the game from Jay Hook for a home run, the lone run in the Mets' 1-0 loss at the Polo Grounds on this date in 1962. Jim Maloney struck out 13 Mets. ... The Mets surpassed one million fans in paid attendance on this date in 1963 when a crowd of 19,273 paid to see them split a doubleheader with the Reds at the Polo Grounds. ... Mets uniform No. 37 was retired in honor of Casey Stengel, their first manager and one-man promotions department, in ceremonies at Shea Stadium on Sept. 2, 1965. The Yankees had retired No. 37 for Stengel, too. The number is retired by no other franchise.
A 7-4 Mets loss in St. Louis was interrupted by a bench-clearing fracas ignited by an altercation between Felix Millan and Cardinals catcher Tim McCarver on Sept. 2, 1973. ... Todd Hundley hit a grand slam to lift the Mets to an 8-3 win at Wrigley Field on this date in 1993. ... Florida's Braden Looper, working in his 66th relief appearance of the season, extended the Mets' home losing streak to 15 games in a 12-inning, 3-2 Marlins victory in the first game of a doubleheader on this date in 2002. Former Met Preston Wilson tied the score in the ninth with a homer against Armando Benitez, and Juan Encarnacion won the game with an RBI double against Scott Strickland. The Mets won the second game, 11-5, with Mike Piazza hitting a pinch-hit, three-run home run. The victory ended the longest home losing streak in the National League since 1911.
Coming up: Yet another Glavine-Smoltz confrontation awaits, the fourth this season. Tom Glavine, his 300 victories -- now 301 -- saluted by the Braves in a pregame video on Friday night, makes what may be his final appearance at Turner Field on Sunday, opposing John Smoltz in the 1:05 p.m. ET game.
Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.