Results tagged ‘ Kevin Millar ’

Pedro unplugged as he returns to work

There was a buzz in the air, as Pedro Martinez put on Red Sox uniform pants and warmup jacket for the first time since 2004, when he dominated the Cardinals in Game 3 of the 2004 World Series.

Martinez is now a special assistant to Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington and he will spend time in camp working with pitchers — particularly Felix Doubront and Rubby De La Rosa.

During a 24-minute session with the media, Martinez was expansive and entertaining.

Does Martinez want to pitch again? “Oh no, not at all. Not to play. Coming back to see the Sox in first place, maybe. No, no, no, no chance. I just don’t think so. I did what I was supposed to do out there.”

What will he add? “I hope to add some knowledge. Any help I can for the staff in any aspect. It could be mechanically. It could be on the field, off the field, it could be mentally, which I know a lot about going through struggles –what we go through in the middle of a season, especially after the first half. I can relate to a lot of them and actually get them going and they can come in and ask questions and I’ll be more than willing to answer.”

Talked to Daniel Bard. What was that all about? “I actually was talking about him feeling comfortable in some of the things that he was doing. He explained to me some of the things that he does where he feels more comfortable. I suggested a couple of things, simple things, like getting into different habits of doing things so he can actually feel comfortable on the mound and off the mound and also to make adjustments.”

Putting the Red Sox uniform on for the first time since 2004: “You know what, it’s weird, but it feels like the first day to me. I get so excited just to be part of this team and be part of the tradition that we have here. To me, it was just like the first day. I was actually a little bit funny about putting a pair of [Red Sox] pants on again. Shorts are different. And regular pants like a player. Same size, same everything, even though I’m a little heavier.”

Less control than when he was a player: “You know what, when they’re in the field, I think they have ways to go around it, but when you’re not, it’s an empty feeling that you get inside of you. There’s nothing you can do from the front of your TV. Sometimes the few games that I stopped to watch at Fenway, it was painful to see the chemistry wasn’t there, the team wasn’t doing what they were supposed to. I was trying to be optimistic about the team playing together all year. That never happened. I know that was one of the biggest reasons why the team didn’t perform to the level that everybody expected.”

Could you have ever imagined doing this years back? “No, I never thought about it but I knew I wanted to be in the field somehow, not all the time. That’s why I automatically erased probably becoming a pitching coach and probably a manager. I don’t really see myself doing 162 games anymore. I did it for my whole career and if I take part in the field, it’s going to be this way.”

Why was now the time to start working again? “To be honest, I can’t sit still for so long. I have to work. I grew up working. Since I was 14, and I was dropped off at the academy by Ramon, which was a really good choice, after that, I just went on to play and play and play and I was never home. Even though my family needs me and I need my family now, I still need some time to actually go away, actually have a schedule, have something to do and at the same time, be where I like to be, which is in the baseball field, the baseball diamond, exchanging with guys  that I feel are like my family.”

What kind of schedule will you have? “You  know, I became really close to Benny and I offered him my help in any sense I could help. I’m open to help him out. I just won’t compromise  special times with my family. I won’t compromise things that are important to me in my life, in my independent life. As far as anything else, I’m open to do it.”

Working with Felix Doubront, who some say is out of shape this spring: “Well he’s so young and so full of talent that sometimes you take for granted the opportunity we’re given. But the same way it comes, the same way it could go. All it takes is a bad injury and you’re out of baseball. The only thing that prevents injuries is hard work. I believe he just doesn’t know. He hasn’t been taught that he’s going to be held accountable for his performance out there and the way he looks. That this is really a serious business. I think it takes a little while to get him mentally prepared to understand the responsibility that he has on top of his shoulder with the whole Boston community and the team and he’s so young. Nowadays these pitchers come up so young, so talented that they don’t realize how much they’re going to be counted on. And I think Doubront is a good example. I think he needs to know that it’s really important to this team, the organization, the community, to Boston, and that they’re counting on him to be one of the big names. But at the same time, he’s still a young kid trying to develop and he’s already in the big leagues trying to perform. You have to take that into consideration and be patient with him. At the same time, try to guide him through it. and I think I can be a good access to it to learn about some of the things that he has to do.”

Not pulling any punches with Doubront: “Baseball is not easy. It wasn’t easy for me. He has to expect it to be tough. One thing I’m going to be with him, just like I was always with you, I’m going to be straightforward an I’m going to say the way it is, point blank. If he wants to hear it or if he doesn’t, that’s OK. I want the best for him and I want the  best for the organization and I would love to help. I can’t handle the fact that I have all this knowledge and  not give it away. I would love to give it away and I hope he sees me as a good example of hard work and dedication and will to do things.”

On Doubront perhaps not being in great shape: “Being out of shape a little bit is normal, probably not as much as before. But being out of shape a little bit at spring training, this is the only place you can be a little bit out of shape. You’re here to get in shape. He has plenty of time to get in shape. I think he’s going to do it right. At the same time, you have to hold him accountable to go and do his work.”

Does this job feed your competitive juices? “It’s more difficult for me to be as competitive because I can’t pitch. I would love to brush someone back. Hey, hey, get off the plate, this is my area. Now I have to sit and watch and rely on someone to do it so I can get my giddyup.”

More on inside baseball: “You teach them when to do it and how to do it and how to do it properly and effectively. It’s all part of the game. You have to pitch inside, you have to brush them back. You have to make them feel uncomfortable all the time, and one of the things that makes you feel uncomfortable is that pitch inside close to you. At 99 from Rubby De La Rosa or Doubront or Lester can get anybody uncomfortable. I will preach it: They need to pitch inside if they want to have success.”

The desire: “If you have all of the ingredients that lead you to it. You have to want it. You have to be crazy enough to do it. You have to be willing to do it. And you have to be willing to learn how to do it. You put all those ingredients together, and you have someone who can compete just as well as I used to.”

Now that you’re not pitching anymore, can you say how many of your hit batsmen were on purpose? “Probably 90 percent of them, but it was all in retaliation for my teammates.”

Did you drill Karim Garcia on purpose?  “Not on purpose. It didn’t even hit him. It hit the bat. Not on purpose. Who is Karim Garcia? He just hit a great homer for Mexico in the last Caribbean Series. Gerald Williams, no. Karim Garcia, no. Some others, I don’t know. There were some in retaliation to show them that there were things I wouldn’t allow them to do. You play around it. They understand it, too. They know they’re going to get hit for something that happened. If you disrespect a player or disrespect me, I’m probably going to take a chance, somewhere where you didn’t expect it or didn’t think I would do it, and there you have it. If you do it professionally and not hurting anybody. I don’t remember hitting anybody with a fastball to the head.”

Jorge Posada thought you were saying you wanted to hit him in the head in ’03. Did you ever get a chance to tell him that you were really saying, “I’ll remember that.”.  “No. No. It doesn’t matter. Posada is a human being. He’s got his family. He doesn’t need me in his life, I don’t need him. I wish him well with his family. There are some things that happen in the baseball field.”

Can you be a liason? “Hopefully we’ll be supportive to some of the players that don’t feel like they can talk to management. There are certain areas where a player doesn’t feel confident enough to express himself and have fun. I was crazy fun in the clubhouse, but the time to play was totally different. I knew I had something to do. There wasn’t anybody more serious on the day I pitched. But if I wasn’t pitching, I was so crazy fun, and those guys are going to get to know that. Even though I’m not playing, I’m going to keep it loose. I’m going to be loud. And you can do those things, but you have to understand that the time to work is the time to work and make a difference between work and loose time. When you have to express something, do it the right way. Hopefully I will be one of the bridges that reaches between the areas they weren’t able to reach the last few years.”

How do you relate to players when you probably had a lot more talent? “This may sound weird, but I never considered myself a great player. I made myself, along with my teammates, a better player than I was. I never thought I was a superstar. I worked like I was a hungry man going for his first game in the big leagues. I know that’s not going to be something you want to teach Doubront or any of those kids coming up, because they are rich in talent. All they have to do is try to stay physically healthy, here’s what they have and suck in a lot of the knowledge that everyone is trying to give them.”

How you put it all together: “I will say I had to learn a lot of little pieces together to become the person I was, the pitcher I was. I have a lot of me with Maddux, with Pettitte, with Clemens, Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, Bret Saberhagen believe it or not was someone I really analyzed a lot, Tom Glavine. I had a lot of little things I learned from everybody. I tried to pack them all together and use them, and that’s how I became who i was in baseball, but I never considered myself a superstar or a superhuman talent. I thought there was a lot of work for me to do each day to be consistent and have success.”

Fans serenading you with love during the workout today: “That’s because I’m probably one more fan out there in the parade. Since I left Boston everything was a parade, and every time I came back it was a parade. People got used to keeping the same attitude. I think I’m the same way. I was really happy that they could feel, in a baseball field, feel for me what they felt for me in the field when I was playing. They were like, ‘Hey, Pedro!’ Some of them even asked if I was going to come back and pitch. I said, ‘No, not a chance.'”

Will you be a Red Sox lifer like Luis Tiant? “Probably. Probably around, yeah, when I’m an old goat running around. I probably won’t have the goatee, but I’ll be around hopefully like Jim Rice and Tiant, without the goatee. Johnny Pesky. Johnny Pesky. I remember him hitting me some fungos in my first year here. Then I saw him in his last days. I was really proud to have the opportunity to see Johnny Pesky. I’m hoping to become someone like that.”

Did you get over bitterness about the Red Sox not re-signing you? “I never held it against them. You have to understand, baseball has a dark side and it’s the negotiations. When you’re exposed to arbitration cases, you realize that there is a business part of baseball that forces you to look for negatives about the player, and the player tries to prove to the team that you’re worth whatever you’re asking, that money makes it all difficult. All that love for one day goes away. Then once we settle and reach an agreement, it’s all love again. It’s a lot like two boxers. You shake hands before and you shake hands after. That’s it. It’s boxing. I never held it against Boston, the fact that they didn’t sign me. They thought I wasn’t worth what I was asking, and I thought I was worth what I was asking. That was it. But no grudges, no grudges. Even though I was honest — probably too honest.”

You miss the glory days? “I miss [Johnny Damon], I miss Millar, I miss everybody. I miss every player I played with with the Red Sox. There’s nothing I can think of from ’04 and the previous teams I played, that I don’t miss. I was even telling [equipment manager] Joe Cochran, I was telling Joe I even miss seeing the flowers in the spring, when they first came out, the first part of the season where the leaves are starting to come out and the flowers are starting to come out, I miss that time when it’s starting to get warm and in the summer there’s all the flowers and Boston is green and beautiful. I miss all that over the last few years, even though I did visit — but not like I used to. Now I’m going to get to see it more often.”

The Idiots bring some cheer to Fenway

The duck boats were back at Fenway Park again on Tuesday night, this time lugging around those beloved “Idiots” of 2004, who snapped Boston’s 86-year World Series championship drought.

There were three duck  boats, filled with coaches and players from that memorable team. Terry Francona, Dave Wallace, Lynn Jones, Brad Mills and Ron Jackson represented the coaching staff. Pedro Martinez, Kevin Millar, Trot Nixon, Tim Wakefield, Keith Foulke and Jason Varitek were among the many players on hand.

Millar, Pedro and Foulke held court with the media for a very light-hearted press conference that instantly reminded one how much fun those teams were to be around.

What sticks with these guys eight years later?

“It was a great thing,” Foulke said. “We didn’t really know what we were getting into. I don’t think we did. To do what we did, that team, after the story behind 86 years in this city, it’s the greatest thing ever.”

Martinez: “The thing that sticks in my mind the most is the last out, knowing that we got rid of the burden on every player that passed through the organization. It was a moment of relief for everyone that played the game in Boston. That’s probably the biggest one — just getting that last out. I kept thinking about getting that last out, and when he finally flipped that ball and they called him out, that was it.”

Millar, in a stunner, was the most expansive of the three: “You know what it is? Like Foulkie said, you didn’t realize what you were getting into. But the truth of the matter is that group of guys, the family — it wasn’t just a team. It was a unit that literally hung out together and ate together and liked each other. That doesn’t go on. You can’t buy that. That was the one thing about that that I remember is that we all went to different teams, we all played on different teams, Foulkie went to Oakland, Pedro played with the Mets, but that one group that we had, we had so many different guys from Billy Mueller to Trot Nixon to Pedro Martinez to crazy Manny Ramirez to Keith Foulke, who had every coolest car in the world and cool little gadget thing to Fake Cowboy Millar to David Ortiz. The group, it was a group. That was the one thing, coming back now and seeing everything, you remember the tightness. We weren’t the best players. We had a few superstars in Pedro and Manny, but we were the best unit, if that makes sense.”

So that chemistry stuff was not overrated when it came to the ’04 Red Sox. Millar could not overstate that enough.

“You hear that a lot, ‘What’s chemistry? If you don’t have players, you don’t have chemistry.’ Bull, bull, bullllll, bull, OK? You’ve got to pull for each other. You’re not fooling us. We can fool you guys. You can say the right thing, and we know a few of the teams out there that say the right thing in front of the cameras. But you can’t fool your teammates. If someone is pulling against Keith Foulke  because he wants to be the closer and doesn’t know his role, you feel that. If someone is pulling against Pedro Martinez because he wants to be the guy, you feel that. We pulled for each other. That was what was cool.”

Was there a point the players sensed this uncanny chemistry?

“It’s one of those things you don’t sense,” Foulke said. “It’s there. Probably when you look at it now, looking back, that’s when you understand what it was. Like Kev said, we were buddies. When your buddy goes out there, if Johnny is running into a wall or whatever, you want to work harder to make sure that effort doesn’t go for naught. We’re a family. You go to battle with your brothers.”

“We had a lot of team dinners,” Pedro said. “A lot of them. We used to go out all of us together. Six in one pack, six in the other pack. ‘Where you going to be? We’ll be in this place. We’re having dinner in this place.’ But we were all in the same place at the same time.”

How hard would it have been for Martinez to have left Boston without the World Series championship?

“I would probably retire right after then,” he said. “I would have been so disappointed that I came in here with a purpose, and that was the purpose. I’ll probably say that I was the only player out of all the players that felt like he had something to achieve for this team. I was called in to build the team around me as the ace of the team. It took me until the last year to actually finally get it, but I could easily say, ‘Mission accomplished.’ I’ve actually been to the Green Monster many times. This is the first time I’m actually going to express this. After I got in, everybody normally has the history of signing the Green Monster. I refused to until I won it for Boston. I keep forgetting — every time I come back I keep forgetting — but now I feel like I can sign it, and leave my name in the Green Monster. I haven’t signed it yet.”


What will Johnny Damon do? Shocking, really, that he’s yet to find a home. Damon proved last season that he still has a lot to offer on a baseball field. I think he was a huge difference-maker in Game 4 of the World Series, working the pivotal at-bat of the series, and then making that memorable double steal.

Every year, one guy seems to get left out in the cold. Last year it was Bobby Abreu. This year it’s Damon. I think the Rays are the team that makes the most sense for Damon. He would get to stay in the American League East, the division he’s played in the last eight years. Damon lives in the Orlando area, so he could commute to work. Really, it would be a perfect situation. He is exactly the type of player the Rays could use. I’m sure Gabe Kapler will give him a ringing endorsement.

Another one of the lovable “Idiots” from 2004 found work today, with word surfacing through that Kevin Millar will sign with the Cubs, a Minor League deal with an invite to Spring Training. I think he will be great for that clubhouse, and obviously he knows what it’s like to help relax a team that hasn’t won a World Series for the better part of the century.

Ortiz back in there, and in a familiar spot

Yes, David Ortiz is back in the lineup after his three-day break in Seattle. No, manager Terry Francona did not move the left-handed slugger out of the No. 3 spot in the batting order, where Ortiz has been almost exclusively since the beginning of 2004.

Ortiz declined to speak before the game, but he seemed in a good mood.

The true answer of what the break did for him will come a little after 7 p.m. tonight when he steps back into that batters box for the first time since last Thursday in Anaheim, when he went 0-for-7 and tied a franchise record by leaving 12 men on base. Ortiz is hitting .208 with no homers and 15 RBIs in 130 at-bats.

The Red Sox are playing the American League East-leading Toronto Blue Jays for the first of a three-game series at Fenway. Speaking of the Blue Jays, they are not only off to a great start, but they have an old friend in Kevin Millar, who is batting eighth tonight and DH-ing.

Millar and Ortiz were always very close in their three years as teammates so Kevin of course is aware of the slump his friend is in and can definitely relate. Here is Millar talking about Ortiz:

“You know what, he should have a longer runway then most players here just because of what this guy has done, all the big hits he’s had. You feel terrible for him. I want to talk to him today. You have to understand, it’s baseball and there’s struggles and when you start out this way, it’s magnified and it’s brutal. You can go do this in August and go 80, 90, 100 at-bats without a home run – it happens. But at the start, it gets magnified and becomes more mental than physical.”

“I think, David, physically, looks good. I think he’s obviously still very powerful but I think once he gets that first one, you’re going to see him hit 10 in a month, then seven in a month, and you’ll know he’s back.”

“No doubt about it. We’ve all been there. I remember one year in ’05 or something, same thing, I started out and didn’t hit a home run for whatever, but once you hit the first one out of the way … “

“He’s the best about that, Tito. He’s not going to move him down and say he’s not going to do this. He’s going to stick with him and he needs to.”