10/15/2003 4:22 PM ET
Notes: Pedro's offer declined
Wakefield available on one day's rest to pitch in Game 6
NEW YORK -- Red Sox ace Pedro Martinez approached manager Grady Little on Tuesday night and made it clear that he was willing to pitch Game 6 on three days' rest to help his team stave off elimination at Yankee Stadium.
By Ian Browne / MLB.com
As much as Little appreciated the offer, he declined and stuck with 38-year-old veteran John Burkett, who will be working on nine days of rest.
"Pedro came to me last night and said he would do whatever we wanted him to do," Little said. "We want him to be ready to pitch (Game 7). We've got to win two games, he'll get a chance to win one of them."
The strategy worked for Little in the Division Series against Oakland, when he pitched Burkett in Game 4 and Martinez won decisive Game 5.
Though it is always tempting to put a pitcher of Martinez's caliber on the mound in a do-or-die situation, Little simply didn't think it was a good move.
"After conferring with our pitching coaches (and) our training staff, that's the right thing to do with Pedro," Little said. "We look at everything, but No. 1, we look at the man. And this is the right thing to do."
If the Sox can prevail in Game 6, Martinez will pitch Game 7 on four days' rest against Roger Clemens. That would be a rematch of the memorable Game 3 duel, in which Clemens and the Yankees prevailed by a score of 4-3.
Wakefield available: Knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, the star of this ALCS for the Red Sox, is available to work out of the 'pen in Game 6, though he's had just one day of rest since pitching seven innings in Game 4.
But Little didn't expect to ask Wakefield for more than an inning or two.
"Wake will be available for some limited use today," Little said. "Not too much physical labor. If it's an inning or two, we'll see how it goes. We'll see how the game goes. It's asking a lot of the guy to do what he did two days ago and come back out here and do a lot today. But he will, and he's willing."
No lineup changes: Though the Boston offense has been surprisingly quiet in the playoffs -- they came into Game 6 with a .230 average in 10 games -- Little didn't feel like this was the day to shake things up.
He stuck with what got him here, keeping Nomar Garciaparra (.205, one RBI in 39 at-bats) in the three-hole, Kevin Millar (.200, one RBI) sixth, David Ortiz (.135) fifth and Bill Mueller (.111, no runs, no RBIs) eighth.
"We're going with the best we've got to put out there," Little said. "If I went to thinking about changing our lineup with everyone that's struggling, the first thing you know, our lineup would be all messed up -- people moved around everywhere. We just have to get some hits. When we get hits, we're OK."
Little noted that his team has been overly reliant on the long ball during the postseason. Of 32 runs they've scored coming into Wednesday's game, 21 have been the result of home runs.
Staying optimistic: Little was in a relaxed mood as he spoke with reporters before the game. And he didn't think his players were overly tense either.
The recent experience of coming back from an 0-2 deficit in the Division Series to beat Oakland left the players feeling confident they could stave off elimination again. The Sox entered this game 3-0 in elimination games in this postseason.
"You guys might think it sounds funny, but these guys still think they have a chance to win," Little said. "They think they can come here and win two. It's October the 15th and we're still playing with a chance to win. They just have to go out and do it."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.