Rocket vs. Pedro: The history
BOSTON -- The importance of his next start notwithstanding, Red Sox right-hander Pedro Martinez maintained his code of silence Friday, a hush-hush approach that started midway though the regular season.
"I think the day is coming that he again will speak with the press," Sox manager Grady Little said. "But right now, he wants to continue doing what he has been doing and not break his karma."
Not even on the day before Pedro-Roger II.
The best-of-seven American League Championship Series, tied at one game each, shifts from Yankee Stadium to Fenway Park Saturday afternoon (4 p.m. ET). Most of the focus Friday was on the potential pitching duel between Martinez, the current right-handed Red Sox ace, and Roger Clemens, the former Red Sox ace making the final start of his career at Fenway.
Naturally, it would have been wonderful if Pedro had talked about the dream matchup.
While he kept his thoughts to himself, others were more than willing to discuss the Dominican Republic native who is to the Red Sox the past six
seasons what Clemens was to the Sox during most of the 1980s and '90s
-- the man.
Just who is Pedro Martinez?
The postseason media guide tells you he led the AL with a 2.22 ERA this
season, held opposing hitters to a league-low, .215 average, finished
second in strikeouts to Estaban Loaiza (207-206) and ranked second to
Johan Santana of the Twins in winning percentage (.800 to .778).
Look further and you'll notice that Pedro has an astounding 101-28 record
for Boston (not even The Rocket was that successful) during the regular
season and is 4-0 during postseason appearances in 1998, '99 and this
You might not hear it from him, but his teammates say Pedro has a good
sense of humor.
One of the funniest scenes after Boston's Game 1 win Wednesday night at
Yankee Stadium was the area in front of Martinez's locker. Adhesive tape
with the message: "Not talking, Bad Mood" kept "intruders" a safe
When asked Friday during a pinch-hit appearance at a press conference,
interim pitching coach Dave Wallace was asked what Martinez is like behind closed doors.
"Oh, he's great," Wallace said. "He pulls jokes on you all the time,
especially me. He calls me 'Old Man', which is fun."
Wallace and Pedro go way back.
"I had Pedro as a kid in the Dodgers organization, so I know his
personality and his makeup," said Wallace, who joined the Red Sox early
in the season when pitching coach Tony Cloninger became ill and had to
leave the team. "That really helped.
"It's just amazing how much he has grown as a pitcher over the years, his
knowledge of dissecting hitters and picking them apart. Even on the days
he doesn't have his best stuff, he's able to go out and compete."
Backup catcher Bill Haselman has been with the Sox for the past six
weeks and is finally finding out why Martinez is darn difficult to hit.
"Just watching and being around him, I think he one of the smarter
pitchers I have ever seen out there," said Haselman, who also played for
the Mariners and Rangers. "He is able to read hitters on the spot, he
knows their approaches and what he has to do.
"To be able to do that comes from just having a good grasp on what he
has to do and having so much confidence in his own ability. I know from
facing Pedro in the past that he has just nasty stuff. He has four pitches
he can command any time he wants. As a hitter, with his arm speed the
way it is on changeup and curveball, it makes him very, very difficult."
Sox right-hander Derek Lowe, who joined the Red Sox pitching staff the
same year as Martinez (1998) said he has benefited tremendously from
talking, listening and watching Pedro.
"I can't do anything he does, physically," Lowe said. "Any Major League
pitcher can win when he has his best stuff, but the thing I have learned
the most from him is what a pitcher can do on the days he doesn't have a
good feel with any pitches.
"You go to the next aspect and think you're better than you are and pitch
your way through it. If you give up two runs, you try not to give up three
runs. That's what he has taught me to do, both by talking to him and
On most days, Martinez comes to work with his "A" game.
Asked what makes his best pitcher a notch above practically everyone
else, manager Grady Little said, "His knowledge of pitching. His knowledge
of pitching is by far the best of any pitcher I have ever seen. He has the
ability to make those adjustments and attack the hitter."
Known as primarily a power pitcher throughout his 20s, the 31-year-old
can still uncork some fastballs in the mid-90 mph range, but he also can
mess with a hitter's mind, changing speeds and locations.
Jason Varitek has been catching Pedro's pitches for nearly six years and
says Martinez is an easy pitcher to catch.
"At various times he has to become a different type of pitcher, but that's
by choice," Varitek said. "He can play the strikeout game and he also can play the ground ball game. When you are as gifted as he is and have the stuff he has, you can pretty much do what you want. He has the potential
anytime he goes out there to dominate."
All of Red Sox Nation hopes Game 3 Saturday afternoon is one of
those dominating days.
Jim Street is a
reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major
League baseball or its clubs.