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Pedro + Trainer Non Grata = ???

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Well, I suppose we should talk about this.

Pedro Martinez has been working out with Angel "Nao" Presinal, a personal trainer who has been blacklisted by Major League Baseball for his involvement with Juan Gonzalez in a 2001 incident at Toronto Airport during which a bag purportedly containing steroids was confiscated. Each man blamed the other for the bag and both were eventually released by Canadian authorities. Presinal has since been shunned in the United States but continues to command great respect in the Dominican Republic.

For his part, Martinez has decided to bury his head in the sand with respect to Presinal's documented association with performance enhancing drugs:

"I have no idea about the controversy. I just know that I would give Nao my support anytime. Nao has worked with me for a long, long time. And all he has done is help me with my training, help me with massages and stuff like that. I don't know what went on between him and Gonzalez or anybody else. I just go about my job. I don't really pay attention to controversy. When you are training, there is no controversy. There shouldn't be. What I have done is work hard. And Nao has been there for me to work hard. And when it comes to my therapy and getting my massages, getting my stretching, helping me do my work -- Nao has done that with me."
Considering the current climate around baseball regarding PEDs one might think it wise to disassociate ones self from characters who have already been linked to them. Knowing Pedro as we do, he has long been a person who has eschewed convention for personal preference or comfort, and he -- as well as numerous other Dominican ballplayers -- trust Presinal to guide their workouts.

I can't say that I am bothered so much by his decision, so long as Martinez comes back strong and healthy and clean. Curiously, the Mets disavow all knowledge of Martinez's relationship with Presinal:

Asked what role Presinal played in his star pitcher's rehab, Minaya responded: "There is no -- as far as I know, there is no connection between Nao and the Mets and Pedro. That is news to me."

As for Presinal working with Martinez, he said: "I don't know. I don't know that."

Either the Mets truly know nothing about their relationship, or Omar Minaya is denying any knowledge of it in order to toe the company line regarding Presinal. Clearly, MLB wants nothing to do with him and its expectation of its teams is equally clear: keep your distance.

Pedro is reportedly ahead of schedule with the rehabilitation following rotator cuff surgery last October. No one expects him to return before the All Star break, and some, including Ron Darling, don't expect him back in 2007 at all. Time will tell.