05/11/2002 9:41 pm ET
Martinez wants to finish career in Boston
By Ian Browne / MLB.com
SEATTLE -- In the most telling example yet of how much the atmosphere has improved around the Red Sox this season, ace Pedro Martinez said emphatically before Saturday's game that he wants to finish his career in Boston.
Martinez signed a six-year, $75 million contract in December 1997 that expires following the 2003 season. The Red Sox hold a club option for Martinez in 2004.
Barring any health setbacks, the Red Sox renewing that option -- worth $17.5 million -- would seem like a mere formality. Still, Martinez would like to know for sure, and would be more than open to exploring a long-term extension.
"I want to finish my career in Boston, but I want them to let me know," Martinez said. "I am excited, really excited [about the state of the team]. They gave me my first long-term deal.
"I am a free agent soon. I just hope I'm there for them. In reality, this is my fifth year [of my contract], next year will be the last year. Whether they want to pick up my option or not ... I could easily become a free agent after next year. It's up to them whether I become a free agent or not."
Though the three-time Cy Young winner made just 18 starts last season because of a small tear in his rotator cuff, he doesn't think his health should be an obstacle for the team in securing him long term.
"If they had any doubts I was hurt, they shouldn't be pitching me," said Martinez, who takes the mound for the nationally televised finale Sunday. "I don't think I have anything to be doubted about with my health, not at this time."
Last year, things were a lot different, both in regards to Martinez's health and the way he viewed his future beyond his existing contract.
"Last year I thought I wasn't going to come back," said Martinez. "I heard some comments, like Pedro's not hurting. Some of those things really disappointed me. I even told [former Boston GM Dan] Duquette I wouldn't want to come back. But the [new owners] said things were going to change and they did. "
Interim GM Mike Port said there haven't been any discussions yet about renewing Martinez's option, or trying to secure him for the long haul.
"Our new ownership is certainly aware of his accomplishments and his standing in the game," Port said. "We have to stay focused on '02 and expect that Pedro is going to have a good year and go from there. Any contract of that magnitude is going to be largely an ownership decision."
Principal owner John Henry wasn't sure when Martinez's contract status would be reviewed, but he was happy to hear that his most prominent pitcher is pleased with the environment around him.
"That's good to hear," said Henry. "He's the best pitcher in baseball. He has a certain charisma, a certain mystique and just a terrific sense of humor. He's the total package."
Martinez -- buoyed by Boston's 24-8 record -- certainly wasn't stressing over the issue.
"Anybody wants it to be [taken care of], but I'm not really thinking about it," he said. "I still have a [deal] with this team for two more years probably, if they pick up the option. If not, I have one more year to go."
"It would be presumptuous to go into too much detail at this time, other than just to say we know there is an option down the line," said Port. "We know he is one of the greats in the game. We hope that level of performance continues."
And Martinez hopes it continues in Boston for the remainder of his career.
Ian Browne covers the Red Sox for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or any of its clubs.