KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Fernando Martinez admits he was caught off-guard when his agent called in January to give him the news: The Mets had put him on waivers and he'd been claimed by the Astros.
"I was surprised, because I never thought about that. I thought sometimes that maybe they might try to trade me. But that's part of the life, part of baseball. That happens," he said before the Astros beat his former team, 9-5, Sunday at Osceola County Stadium.
Mets manager Terry Collins said the organization never doubted how much ability the 23-year-old has. But it became concerned, because Martinez was hurt so often.
"I hope he's healthy and has a long career," Collins said. "But it was always scary to think that when you called down [to the Minors] to see how he was doing, you always found out he wasn't playing. You know? And I didn't call down just for help. I'd call to see how guys were doing. Invariably, they'd say, 'He's out right now. His knee is bothering him.' Or, 'Gee, he pulled a hamstring.'
"I know his talent. I know he's got great talent. Unfortunately, he's been one of those guys who's had a tough time getting the amount of games that I think you have to have to get ready. In the right spot, if he gets playing time and can stay healthy, he's going to put numbers up. He's a good offensive player. He's got some kind of power."
Martinez said he's lost 15 pounds -- in part to ease the stress on his knees -- and that he expects to remain healthy all season.
"I appreciate that the Mets gave me the opportunity to play in the Majors and to wait for me, because I had a lot of injuries in the past. But I'm happy for now. It's a new start with a new team," he said.
This was the second time Martinez has faced the Mets this spring. He went 0-for-3 against them on March 6, and he was 0-for-3 with three strikeouts Sunday. He conceded that he would have liked to have gotten a hit against them.
"Yeah, man," he said with a wide smile. "That's my job."
Pelfrey draws positives from latest outing
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- The results have gone from bad to worse. Mets right-hander Mike Pelfrey said his attitude remains good.
Pelfrey made his third Grapefruit League start in Sunday's 9-5 loss to the Astros at Osceola County Stadium. He allowed four runs in each of his first two outings and was hoping to change that.
Giving up eight runs on eight hits and a wild pitch in 2 2/3 innings wasn't what he had in mind. Still, he insisted there were more positives than negatives.
"I actually thought the ball came out of my hand the best it has this spring," he said. "I just thought the execution was terrible. I walked way too many guys and the ball was up a little bit. I got through 80 pitches, so that's fine.
"Of course, I'd like to get everybody out. But I don't know if I've ever had a good Spring Training. I'm not too worried about it now. I feel good and the results will come."
And if that sounds pretty much like what every struggling pitcher says in Spring Training, well, Pelfrey points to 2010. He remembered "getting my brains beat in" until his final start against the Yankees in Tampa, Fla., where he finished on a strong note.
By the middle of June that season, he was 9-1 with a 2.39 ERA.
Pelfrey said he's still working on his sinker, but also tried to increase his velocity a little bit against Houston. As a result, a lot of his pitches were up and over the middle of the plate.
"Guys at this level are going to hit that," Pelfrey said. "I don't know how many more starts I have, but I definitely know I have to be better than that."
Mets manager Terry Collins also took the outing in stride.
"One of things we asked Mike to do was to start to ramp up the velocity, which he did," Collins said. "I always believe a guy like that, when he gets his arm strength the way he wants it, then the command will be better. I thought he just reared back and let some fastballs go, which is a good sign for me."
Collins agreed that asking a pitcher to throw harder is a little unusual.
"But Mike's got such a good arm. Here's a guy who can pitch at 94 or 95 and you've got to build it up. It's like a lot of things. If you're fast and you don't run fast, you're not going to be fast. And I don't want this guy to lose his fastball because he's trying to make pitches," Collins said.
Collins' focus on Mets' execution, not record
KISSIMMEE,Fla. -- The Mets have won three games this spring, fewer than any Major League team. Manager Terry Collins tried to put that in perspective after Sunday 9-5 loss to the Astros at Osceola County Stadium.
"It's always good to win. That's why you play. That's why you keep score. But if we have a game, and you see somebody had four good at-bats and maybe they go 0-for-4, you have to take the approach that he's on the ball, he had good swings. That's the most important thing," he said.
"I've seen too many teams that had great springs and then did nothing during the season, because they played all their players in Spring Training and they beat everybody. Or maybe someone's six-year free agents are better than someone else's six-year free agents that are invited camp. So a lot of games are lost in the last three innings, when there are guys playing who may make your team, but coming out of camp, probably aren't. So I don't get too caught up in the score. I really get caught up in the execution."
The Mets will enjoy their only break in the Grapefruit League schedule Monday, and Collins said he is looking at it as a line of demarcation.
"We're certainly coming out of the day off with some positives. David [Wright], I'm sure will start doing some on-the-field stuff. Ruben Tejada's going to play Tuesday night. Scotty Hairston is feeling much, much better," Collins said. "So all of a sudden, a lot of the pieces are starting to fall into place. And we've got two weeks to get them ready, which seems like a crunch, but [we think we can] get some work done."
Collins added that he's "absolutely" looking for a stronger second half of spring, but he stressed again that he won't measure that in wins and losses.
Third baseman David Wright, who had a cortisone shot in his sore left ribcage last week, hit off a tee and soft toss in Port St. Lucie, Fla., on Sunday.
Ronny Cedeno and Rob Johnson both homered in Sunday's 9-5 loss to the Astros. The Mets had hit just eight homers in their first 14 games.
Garrett Olson, considered the frontrunner to claim to situational lefty spot in the bullpen that opened up when Tim Byrdak had arthroscopic knee surgery, pitched a 1-2-3 seventh inning.
Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.