Results tagged ‘ Pedro Martinez ’
Did you think Pedro Martinez’s pre-induction day press conference would be anything but entertaining?
Here were the highlights from his 21-minute session with the English-speaking media.
How does Pedro want to be remembered? “I’ve always been open-hearted and outspoken about the way I am. I think if you want to grasp a better idea of Pedro Martinez, you have to deal with me on a daily basis. I don’t have anything I can say that they don’t know. Maybe that I am a very regular human being, once I take my uniform off. I am lovely. I’m a joker. I’m a gardner. I’m a fisherman. I’m a father, a very dedicated father. I love my mom. I love gardening with her.”
Should there be baseball in Montreal again? “Great. Great. As soon as possible, we need a team in Montreal. I think Montreal was robbed of an opportunity to have probably a franchise that would last forever. It’s a great city. It’s probably the safest city I’ve ever played in, and I feel in Boston like I’m in my backyard. It goes to tell you that Montreal is that safe. And for people to play baseball and see baseball, and have family time, I think Montreal is the perfect place.”
Pedro visiting the Babe’s statue in Cooperstown. ““Yeah, we are teammates and I had the opportunity to go over and look at his statue and actually I did apologize for the comments I made that day [in 2001]. It was Shaughnessy and Jonny Miller getting in my face and I said those things because I didn’t believe in curses but I know especially after that moment, I got to really appreciate who the Bambino was and how good he was to the people and society, and for baseball. Oh yeah, I am his teammate. He forgave me for what I said. We moved on now. I’m counting on him to go deep and I’m going to get the next eight shutout innings.”
Pedro’s weekend experience: “You know what, this has been great. From the first moment we were announced, for some reason, these are four guys that respect, admire and look after each other to learn something from each other. I’ll tell you what, dealing with Randy, my big brother now, that’s how he calls me, my little brother, I call him my big brother, we have been hanging out together. It’s great to actually see the kind of person behind the uniform. If you watch him and watch me competing, you would never tell that Randy is the kind of guy that he is. John Smoltz, the same way. You didn’t know that John Smoltz was one guy that could pull off a prank on you at any moment. You look at them pitching, and it’s so serious, so committed to the game. You don’t perceive that whatsoever the kind of person behind it. I’m the same way. You would never tell that I’m a joker, that I’m someone so happy on days that I’m not pitching when you saw me pitching. It’s great to see that. It’s great to see the family interact with each other. How great they mix together as soon as they saw each other and they saw the way Randy and I walk around.”
Which direction will Pedro take in his speech? “I think it’s a commitment to Latin America. I feel the commitment more than anything as far as what I represent. I think it’s important that I go out there and show the level of education that I have. I’m going to be speaking in two languages, which is a little bit more difficult than people think. I’m going to be able to actually showcase how we are, how our people feel. I hope that I can express with the moment how much I love, respect and treasure everything I did in baseball, America, the people, the fanbases, the teams, the organizations, I hope I can project the right image at the time I get to the podium. Hopefully emotions won’t cut me off guard and make me cut it short.”
The 32-year-gap between Dominicans in the Hall: “You know what, what we got is what we deserve. There’s no crying in baseball we always say, right. We did not have the numbers, we did not have the kind of things that made us qualify to have another one. Juan Marichal was the Dominican Dandy, the one that represented the Dominican Republic for a long time. Now after 32 years, I showed up in the area. Now, I don’t think we’re going to wait 32 years more to get another representative. I think Vladimir Guerrero is right on the edge of becoming the next Hall of Famer. Guys that are still playing and posting numbers, I think, our going to be in the Hall of Fame, especially on the first ballot. Guys that if they decided to retire today, they would be Hall of Famers in five years, for sure.”
A-Rod a Hall of Famer? “No, I’m not talking about A-Rod, but I’m talking about Albert Pujols, maybe David Ortiz, Adrian Beltre – I think those are guys that will make it right away in the first ballot.”
Why not A-Rod? “I’m not going to go into that because there’s nothing I can do with the way voters handle who did what. Certainly the numbers are there but as you know from previous case – why not Roger Clemens, why not Barry Bonds? — because of the same reasons. So i’m not going to go into that and make a big deal out of this. I hope they all make it to be honest.
More on the juice era: “When I pitched it was the middle of that era where they say it was a juiced era. Well, guess what? I wanted the best out there, I wanted to face the best, I wanted to beat the best, I was able to do that. So if you ask me again, if I want to fact that kind of competition, yes I do. If I’m going to be given the 99 and the change-up and the curveball, bring it on again. I don’t care. There’s no crying in baseball right? I’m going to repeat that, there’s no crying in baseball, so I just hope that whoever gets a chance to make it here, makes it. It doesn’t matter. I’m not condoning people cheating the game or doing the wrong things, because I never did it. Hey, enough of the whining, let’s just play ball and face it. Once again, I’m going to repeat – i’m not condoningbad things in the game, but at the same time, let’s go and compete, let it be.”
Colin Cowherd disparaging the intellect of Dominicans: “It’s only going to be an insult to anyone that falls to that level, I’m not at that level, I’m sorry. I’m dealing here with polite people people that understand human rights, people who understand who we are and these are the people I’m paying attention to. That person, I don’t even know, I never heard of him, I don’t want to know him. I want to know the people that represent something, that mean something to us, the people that understand how we can get better.
More on Cowherd: “Yes, we are a Third World country, yes we don’t have the resources to be more educated but you know what every once in a while you’re going to get one like me, that’s not afraid to face you guys, to tell you how educated or uneducated I am, how proud I am of becoming who I am. We’re not going to stop and go back to probably the third world country that we were 30 years ago, we want to go forward, we’re looking forward. We don’t want to look down, to where he is, I want to look up to you guys, the voters, the seniors who are here, the Hall of Famers who are here and hopefully set the bar high like Roberto Clemente did.
On the bilingual approach Sunday: “Bear with me. It’s going to be in both languages. I have to go back and forth. With all due respect to America and the understanding it’s America’s pastime, baseball, and it’s played in America, I am committed to the Latin community and I am committed to America.”
Representing different cities and teams: “The same way we have fan bases in Boston, the same way in New York — believe it or not, I was a Met, and I’m proud of it. I was a Phillie, and I’m proud of it. I ran the Eastern division, I moved around. So I’m going to have people from all over and all of you are welcome and appreciated the same way. Mon amis in Montreal are welcome as well. Everybody that’s coming over is welcome. It’s part of baseball. It’s part of a huge tradition. I’m extremely proud to have had the opportunity to represent baseball in so many places, and to do it with honor and humbled to do it.”
Pedro on the fans of Boston: “They’ve got a place right here, in my heart. They’re with me here. I’m representing Boston. Like I said, I represent many things, but Boston is one place that I’m representing proudly. They can feel comfortable that Pedro is going to be Pedro. And Boston, whatever Pedro is, Boston is going along with it. I’m pretty sure I don’t have to explain this very much to the Bostonians, because they know what I’m made of and they know who I am. I’m a walking party in Boston. The parade just keeps going.”
When the 2004 Red Sox have their 10-year reunion at Fenway Park next week, there should be great memories of the characters that helped break an 86-year World Series championship drought.
Amid a festive atmosphere, Pedro Martinez hopes that Red Sox fans rise to the occasion and give Manny Ramirez a warm welcome in his first visit to Fenway Park since 2010.
“It took a lot for him to come,” said Martinez. “He wants to make it up to the Boston fans. He wants to show everybody that he’s a different person, that he’s a Christian man and a role model to his family. His kids are going to be here. It will be nice if we all kind of get together and just make a fun day out of it and remember that Manny was the MVP [of the World Series] and he’s the biggest reason probably why we won it.”
The ceremony will take place prior to the May 28 home game against the Braves.
When the Red Sox signed Ramirez to an eight-year contract in December 2000, Martinez was one of the players who helped recruit him.
Fittingly, Martinez also was one of the key people to encourage Ramirez to come back to Boston for a reunion in which nearly every core member of the “Idiots” will be on hand.
“Yeah, I tried to talk him into it,” Martinez said. “He wants to make up with Boston again.”
There were many highs and lows for Ramirez in Boston, but nobody can dispute he is one of the best hitters in club history.
In eight seasons with the Sox, Ramirez was a .312 hitter with 274 homers and a .999 OPS.
Ramirez was traded for Jason Bay in 2008 after several incidents, including a dugout skirmish with Kevin Youkilis and an altercation in which he pushed traveling secretary Jack McCormick to the ground.
After his departure from the Red Sox, Ramirez was twice suspended for violation of MLB’s performing-enhancing drugs policy, the latter of which occurred during his brief stint for the Rays in 2011.
But Martinez can sense how regretful Ramirez is of those incidents.
“He made a couple of mistakes,” said Martinez. “He knows it, but now he knows he’s a different man. He’s a Christian man and all he wants to talk about is God.”
This will be the first time Ramirez has done anything in affiliation with the Red Sox since his controversial departure from the club.
“His kids, I’m pretty sure, are very excited to come over and see their dad again in Fenway,” Martinez said. “I think fans should take that in consideration.”
Pedro Martinez is one of the few former Red Sox players who can great a buzz simply by arriving at camp. Today was his first day and he talked about a bunch of different stuff. Here is a sampling:
On going into the Red Sox Hall of Fame: “To me, it’s a great honor to actually go into the Red Sox Hall of Fame. I don’t have enough words to thank the organization and I’m extremely proud to have been chosen to go into the hall of fame. Really happy. I think, this once again makes me more of a Bostonian than ever. I keep saying I’m a Bostonian. Now, I can’t go away.”
How about the baseball Hall of Fame, which Pedro is eligible for in 2015? “I’m looking forward to that. There’s only so much I can do. As of now, I’m just like you, hoping and waiting to get another chance to actually get another chance to actually make it back-to-back years. Boston, then the Hall of Game.”
Does he think he’s a first ballot Hall of Famer? “I think I should have a shot but it’s not up to me. Like I said, it’s not up to me. I can only hope and wait.”
How about going into the Red Sox Hall of Fame with Roger Clemens and Nomar Garciaparra? “It’s a great honor to go with two of the guys that symbolize the Red Sox and have done so much for the game and for the whole Boston area and the Red Sox. I’m extremely honored to share that moment with them. Just happy to be right with them.”
What does he love so much about his current role with the Red Sox? “It’s just that I think I have so much to offer, stuff that I’m not going to put into use anymore. I might as well pass it along. I’m trying to do that. I’m trying to get involved more in baseball and more with the young players and the veteran players. Whoever needs me. I would just love to pass everything I know, all my knowledge, all of my experience to some of those guys nad hopefully get some good results out of every one of them.”
How does Pedro teach heart? “You certainly don’t pass your heart but you pass some of the experiences you have that actually make you go out there with such a confidence and such a desire. Those are the things that I’m hoping to pass along to those kids, along with my experience, make them feel more comfortable so they can go out there like they have no fear.”
Who caught Pedro’s eye on his first day of camp? “Every one of them. You know what really caught my attention, to see everybody in such great shape. Everybody seems to be ready. Everybody seems to be so strong. I saw Lester today throwing on the side. My God, he looks great. he looks like he didn’t miss a beat. I also Uehara throw live BP. He looks like game-ready. It’s amazing. I know though, it hasn’t been too long since they were actually pitching. It’s amazing to see how they look game-ready already.”
Pedro’s relationship with Drake Britton: “Well, the first thing was I was honest to him. I will always be. I was straightforward with him and I told him exactly what I would probably love to hear if I was in the same situation. I talk about his stuff, trusting his stuff, about his personal life, how he should treat some of the things that were happening. How much of a battle he wanted to put up after things like that happened. I’m extremely proud of him, extremely proud to see him overcome all that and actually pay me back, pay me back. that’s all I wanted. I wanted to see him have success and to see him at the end of the year pitching so well and doing so well for the team, helping the team so much, it really made me like a proud father.”
Did he enjoy his work with TBS last fall? “I did. You know what guys, I have a lot more respect for you guys. I thought TV was just sit down and talk about baseball. Especially analyzing. I have to really tip my hat to some of you for the work you do. it’s so much searching and little details that you have to look at, game changing situations. It’s a lot more work than I thought but it’s really interesting and I had a great time, especially working with the guys I was working with. It was great. They were true professionals, guys that were really on top of the game. And not only that, they were trying to teach me every day how to become more comfortable.”
More TBS in Pedro’s future: “Yes I have one more year with TBS and who knows along the way? But I’ll remain in baseball. I don’t want to go away from baseball.”
Which other young pitchers has Pedro been impressed by? “I thought Ranaudo was going to get a chance [last year]. When I saw him I saw a guy that was completely different because of the history, with his arm problems. I think he was delayed a little bit more just to be cautious because that was the first full year he was pitching. Owens, he’s a natural. He’s a natural. I think it’s just a matter of keeping them healthy and before you know it they’re going to be up. Those guys are full of talent. I was really impressed with the material we have in the minor leagues.”
More strong young pitchers in the system than he’s seen in the past? “Yes. There is. A lot more than I was used to seeing. A lot more. A good collection of big guys, big guys, strong guys, hard-throwers. Amazing. And so young, so talented.”
Pedro thinks young pitchers are more protected now: “Well the way this organization is guiding each arm we have in the minor leagues, I think it’s a little bit different. Back in my days you had to pitch your way to the big leagues. Now they measure your way to the big leagues. And they hold you and they hold you. Even though you’re doing your job in the minor leagues, it doesn’t have anything to say with it. It’s the program they have to guide each player to the big leagues and hopefully keep him healthy. I think this organization is doing a great job of keeping everybody healthy and calling the right pieces at the right time. I don’t have anything against the way things are going. I would love to see those kids pitch and pitch and pitch and see them up to the big leagues. But given the history we’ve seen with young kids, young talent, it’s good to keep it safe. ”
Are players intimidated by Pedro’s aura? “No. No. I make them feel comfortable. I run around like they are my teammates. I know that some of them might be a little shy, but they know I’m flexible to do anything. I don’t treat Lester like I wouldn’t treat Britton. They’re all the same. They’re my teammates, they’re my friends, they can talk to me any time.”
Pedro loved coming back to the Red Sox just in time for another championship. “I think that would be the highlight of last year. Yes, we won. Yes, Boston Strong after all those things that happened in Boston. It seemed like everything clicked for us. I think the entire city changed last year — the fans, the city after the Marathon, David’s words, all those things kind of came into play. The beards, the chemistry, everything. The group of people that came in, like me, like Wakey, Tek, those guys were able to communicate with all the players, come in and out between the players and management and everybody. I think everything worked perfectly. I think that chemistry that was around is long gone. I think you’re not going to see it anymore around here for a long time. ”
Pedro now more comfortable in his new role. “This is just like the game. You learn as you go. You try to learn from each game. Hopefully I’ll keep learning how to compose myself around the field. Last year, there were times where I knew what to do but couldn’t do anything about it. I got a little antsy. But now I know. Now I can trust everybody to do what they’re going to do. I’m extremely happy that, in my first year when I got in, everything just clicked right.”
Has Pedro spoken to Curt Schilling since the former Sox righty announced he had cancer? “No. I sent a tweet to try to tell him that I’ll be praying for him and we’re going to keep him in our thoughts and prayers. I don’t have his phone number, but I could probably get it from Jack later on, reach out. It’s extremely sad, but I know Schill is a big-game pitcher, like I said in my tweet, and I hope that he competes the same way he did in big games.”
Pedro wants to be even more involved this year: “Yeah, definitely, I want to be more involved with the players. I would like to do a little bit less of the public appearances that they had me doing last year. Because when you get the results that I got when talking to Britton, De La Rosa, Workman, all those kids, Webby, you feel like a proud father and you want to be around your sons. I was just going blind, trying to touch in some places, but now I know that my influence can help a lot of those kids. I’d love to do it. I’d love to do it and spend more time with them this year.”
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.”
In the good timing department, I flew in last night and beat the blizzard. Special assistant to the general manager Pedro Martinez is among today’s arrivals.
Pedro was decked out in a Red Sox t-shirt and gym shorts and seemed bubbly to be back, albeit in a far different capacity.
The equipment truck also arrived, for those who keep tabs on such things.
Among those already on the scene, four days in advance of the first official pitchers-catchers workout: Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Ryan Lavarnway, Daniel Nava, Clay Buchholz, John Lackey, Jon Lester, Felix Doubront, Franklin Morales, Daniel Bard, Andrew Bailey, Craig Breslow and Junichi Tazawa.
Come here on a daily basis for updates, and also, of course, at redsox.com.
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.”
Now that the Yankees have capped off their 27th World Series championship, the work begins all over again for 30 general managers. This is their time of year. Free agents can’t start filing as early as today.
Jason Bay and Boston’s other eligible free agents aren’t eligible to sign with another team until Nov. 19.
What will this Hot Stove season bring? While the lasting image of the 2009 Red Sox is a sweep by the Angels in the Division Series, the fact of the matter is that this team is in pretty good shape going forward.
That being said, you know Theo Epstein will do something significant. The question is, exactly what?
Will there be major changes or subtle tweaks?
On a side note, it was too bad that Pedro just didn’t have it last night. I could tell from the first pitch it wasn’t going to be his night. He didn’t have that look of excitement he normally has when he knows he has his good stuff. He was so deliberate between pitches. There was little to no life on his fastball. And Matsui got him.
The next baseball game we will see will take place under the warm sun of Fort Myers. Bundle up until then!