PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- The Pirates continue to pop up as one of the handful of teams interested in free-agent starter Pedro Martinez, who is still looking to sign on with a team for the 2009 season.

However, unless Martinez's asking price diminishes significantly, there is no reason to start imagining Martinez pitching on the mound at PNC Park.

That's not to say that Pittsburgh didn't have any earlier interest in Martinez. The club contacted Martinez's agent, Fern Cuza, during the offseason to inquire about the 37-year-old. The Pirates had made finding a veteran starter one of their offseason priorities, and Martinez was one of several free-agent starters to whom the Bucs contacted.

But Martinez's is believed to now be asking for a salary of between $5 million to $8 million this season, a figure that Pittsburgh will not meet. With a team payroll of about $51 million for the season, the Pirates have a bit of financial flexibility, but not enough to warrant significant guaranteed money to Martinez.

The fact that the Pirates are pleased to have more starting pitching depth this spring also further undercuts the need for an additional pitcher at that price tag.

Martinez recently made two appearances for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic. He allowed one hit and struck out six in six innings. The three-time Cy Young Award winner was hopeful of using the Classic as a way to showcase himself for prospective teams.