Pedro may return to playoff spotlight

Pedro may return to playoff spotlight

PHILADEPLHIA -- Pedro Martinez found himself surrounded in front of his locker Thursday at Citizens Bank Park.

The scene seemed fitting.

This is the postseason, and for years, the playoffs have been Martinez's stage. Arguably the most dominant pitcher of his era, Martinez is 6-2 with a 3.40 ERA in 13 postseason appearances.

Eleven of those have been starts, but none of them have been since he threw seven shutout innings against the Cardinals in Game 3 of the 2004 World Series. That year, he helped the Red Sox win their first Fall Classic since 1918.

Pulse
Phillies at a glance
2009 record: 93-69
2008 record: 92-70
NL East champs
NLCS matchup:
Phillies at Dodgers
Postseason tix: Information

WHO ARE THESE GUYS?
Madson: Back in business
Werth: Heart of the order
Rollins: Awaiting breakout
Focus: One game at a time
Manuel: Mix & match
Howard: Ready for lefties
Stairs: Shot reverberates
Manuel: New rules for 'pen
Blanton: Arm around team
Pedro: Return to spotlight
Ibanez: Eyes on prize
Rollins: '07 irrelevant
Lidge: Still an option
Lidge: Killer cutter
Roster: Mulling options
Ibanez: Perfect fit
Hamels: Path of the pros
Amaro: Bold decisions
Pedro: Elated to play part
Rollins: No more predictions
Hamels: Back in business
Pitching: Staff in flux
Manuel: Keeps 'em focused
Hamels: Aims for dominance
Lineup: Imperfect but solid
Lee: Ready for playoff debut
Howard: The evolution
Rollins: Excelling on defense
Rotation: Not just big two
Manuel: Steady as she goes
Rollins: Eyes on '09 drama
Howard: The 'Big Piece'
Lee: Lifting Phils' hopes

Martinez, 37, could make his postseason return Saturday with a start against the Rockies in Game 3 of the National League Division Series at Coors Field.

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel has not named a starter, but he said it is between Martinez and right-hander Joe Blanton. Left-hander J.A. Happ, who left Game 2's 5-4 loss with a bruised left leg after he was struck by a liner, said he is OK to pitch.

"I've been around long enough to know that it's my turn," Martinez said. "Of course I want to be out there. We're trained to do this. We're preparing ourselves the whole season to get this opportunity. I can't wait to get an opportunity to see what I can do for this team.

"According to the way everything went today, I'm supposed to get some action in there. And I'm looking forward to getting an opportunity to help this team. Hopefully, I'll be able to do that."

Martinez went 5-1 with a 3.63 ERA in nine starts this season for the Phillies, but he has pitched just once since Sept. 19 -- a four-inning effort Sept. 30 against Houston.

That is just one start in 19 days.

"It doesn't matter how much you practice in the bullpen," Martinez said of the long layoff. "It's never the same in a game. Intensity. Being in the playoffs. I would have loved to have had an opportunity to pitch a little bit more, but that wasn't the situation. We had pretty good guys pitching in front of me. I'll give them the ball back if you ask."

But Martinez might have more to battle than just rust. Temperatures are expected to be in the lows 30s on Saturday, with the chance for snow.

"Concerns?" Martinez said. "I'm going to enjoy the snow. Maybe I'll be rounding the bases in a snowmobile."

Snow or not, Martinez realizes this could be his last opportunity to shine in the postseason. He would like to make the most of it.

"I'm 36 years old, I'll take whatever opportunities that I can get anymore," he said. "Whatever I have left, I'm going to leave it all out there."

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