10/10/2003 7:33 PM ET
Locked in against Pedro
Wilson's success vs. Martinez earns Game 3 start
BOSTON -- Most hitters dread stepping up to the plate against Pedro Martinez, Boston's
three-time Cy Young winner and one of the nastiest pitchers in baseball.
By Mark Feinsand / MLB.com
Enrique Wilson is not one of those hitters. In fact, Wilson looks forward to the opportunity to
face the Red Sox ace, who will take the mound on Saturday in Game 3 of the American
League Championship Series.
"I wouldn't say that," said Wilson, flashing a quick smile at the thought. "He's the best pitcher
in the game and I have a lot of respect for him. He plays hard and he likes to win."
Wilson, who has not played in any of the Yankees' six postseason games, will start at third
base in place of Aaron Boone. The decision was a no-brainer for Torre, as Wilson is 7-for-8
with four doubles and a walk against Martinez this season.
"You don't ask questions like that," Torre said when asked why Wilson has had such success
against Martinez. "I don't have a reason for it. My past experience as a player, there are just
certain pitchers that, for some reason, when it comes out of your hand, you can read it. I'm
certainly happy that we have Enrique and he seems to enjoy playing against him."
Wilson hit .230 in 135 at-bats this season, collecting 31 hits. Wilson, who hit just .189 against
the rest of the league and is New York's backup at second base, shortstop and third base, is
10-for-20 (.500) with just one strikeout in his career against Martinez.
"There's no secret. It just happens," Wilson said. "I don't overswing, I just try to make contact.
I've been like that my whole career."
"With a lineup this deep, you can overlook a guy sometimes," said Roger Clemens, who will
start against Martinez in Game 3. "They can lay in the weeds real quiet and come up in
certain situations to hurt you. Over the years I've had guys that were just tough outs for me,
guys that are either good situational hitters or just good contact hitters that you are not going
to strike out and you just have to approach it that way."
According to Wilson, there is no other pitcher in the game that he feels as comfortable against.
That's very odd, considering that seven Yankees regulars have averages lower than .250
against the right-hander.
"There's always situations like that in baseball, where guys own certain pitchers," said Derek
Jeter, whose career average against Martinez is .239. "That's just how this game goes."
"I'm sure if you look up every great pitcher in this game, I'm sure there's one guy that wears
him out," said Jason Giambi, who is just 7-for-39 (.179) against Pedro. "It becomes mental
after a while, like, 'Oh man, this guy again?' The hitter, on the other hand, feels invincible."
While Wilson talked to reporters in the visiting clubhouse on Friday, Hideki Matsui, who is
0-for-10 against Martinez, poked his head into the group and pleaded for Wilson's help.
"Teach me," Matsui said in English. "Teach me how to hit Pedro."
Wilson laughed, saying once again that he doesn't have any secret formula for solving
"I just tell them to be aggressive, try to put the ball in play and don't overswing," Wilson said.
"That's my advice."
In their last meeting, Martinez beat the Yankees, 9-3. As he eased his way through the
Yankees' lineup, the one batter he couldn't solve was Wilson, who doubled in both of his
at-bats. After the second double, Martinez couldn't help but to laugh.
"The last outing was comical," Torre said. "Everything Pedro threw up there, it got to the point
where Pedro was smiling and tipped his hat."
Will Wilson continue his recent string of success on Saturday? It's hard to tell, but he's
certainly excited about getting the opportunity.
"I like facing a guy like Pedro," Wilson said. "It makes me more aggressive at the plate, makes
me do better because I know it's going to be tough to do well against him. He's so good."
Mark Feinsand is a reporter for MLB.com.
This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.