Pedro: 'Part of my heart is in Boston'

January, 11, 2012
Pedro Martinez back in a Red Sox uniform?

It's actually an idea that's crossed his mind, the former Red Sox ace admitted in an interview with WEEI on Tuesday.

"I try not to think about it, but my body being in such good shape and being so healthy actually forces me to think about it," he said. "I don’t think I’m going to do it anymore, but I still believe I could definitely pitch.

"I was never approached by the Red Sox [in 2011]. I actually thought about maybe going back and trying to do something. I knew that they needed someone. But I have a hard time leaving the lifestyle that I’ve chosen now. Leaving the family wasn’t going to be easy. Even if it was the Red Sox, I was going to have a hard time leaving my family."

Martinez appeared on WEEI to promote “An Evening with Pedro Martinez,” an event to raise money for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, the Jimmy Fund and the Pedro Martinez and Brothers Foundation.

In his usual entertaining style, Martinez talked about a wide range of topics, including his love for Boston, his take on baseball's steroid era, his career highs and lows, Grady Little's fateful decision in the 2003 ALCS and more.

Here's a sample of his comments:

Does he still follow baseball and the Red Sox?

“The Red Sox are part of my heart, just like Boston is. I’m always looking to the Red Sox and actually checking out what they’re doing.”

“I’m a Bostonian. I consider myself a Bostonian. I believe my best years, my most important years, were in Boston. Part of my heart is in Boston. The other part is with my family and my own interests. I don’t have anything bad to say about my years in Boston. … Honestly speaking, which is not very often that you’ll have an All-Star speaking honestly, I love Boston. I miss Boston. I miss the fans. I love the fans. I loved living in Boston. I’m actually thinking about selling my house in New York and buying back in Boston to actually go back.”

On his reputation for being a prima donna:

"No, I wasn’t a prima donna. I was just a man who was normal, aging. When he was hurt, he was hurt. When he was fine, he pitched. It bothered me to be called prima donna. I don’t think that anyone clean, clean, clean, clean, worked harder than I did in baseball. As the time passes by, you’re going to realize that my body, my physical body, wasn’t supposed to take the toll that it did for 18 years plus the minor league years. Nobody predicted I would last that long. The only way you get that is not ability, but by working. Hard workers like me are hard to find.

Nowadays, you can see the way baseball is going, the way pitching is going. Nowadays, 250 strikeouts is a big deal. For Pedro, it was a minor deal to have 250. I’m not [physically] impressive. I’m a normal man with a very natural physical body. Very simple, too."

On Grady Little’s ill-fated decision to leave Martinez on the mound for the eighth inning against the Yankees in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS:

"I thought I was out in the seventh inning, because I was told by [pitching coach] Dave Wallace that was my last inning. Also, the head trainer that we had, Chris Correnti, told me you might be looking at your last batter or so. When I came out, I was pretty sure I was out. Then, Grady asked me to get Nick Johnson out, because [left-handed reliever Alan] Embree could not get him out whatsoever. [Little] said, ‘After that, I’ve got the bullpen ready for you.’

"So I went in and I did that. But you know what? I did that so many times. I was out to get one batter and I would get one inning. As a matter of fact, that ’99 game when I came out hurt in Cleveland, I was supposed to pitch one inning just to hold them there, and I ended up pitching six complete innings. Nobody asked about it, because it looked good when we finally won it. But I went over my head, I went over everybody’s head. I went over Jimy Williams’ head. I went over the rules they had for me that night. I just took it upon me to do it, and I did it. I disobeyed what Jimy wanted to do. Jimy wanted to take me out. I said no. He didn’t want me to pitch at that time that I went in, and I said, ‘No, I want to go in.’ When it goes good, everything tends to be overlooked. When it goes wrong, it comes back to bite you.

"Grady’s decision, if you ask me today the same thing, can you get Nick Johnson out? I would say yes. Can you get [Jorge] Posada? Yes. Can you get [Hideki] Matsui? Yes. Can you get anybody – can you get any of those players? I would say yes, and I would take the ball again because I never back off a challenge.
Don’t ask me. If you want to take me out, just don’t ask me. Take me out right then."

On his famous comment, "I just tip my hat and call the Yankees my daddy”:

"If you guys were to play the whole sentence I used when I said that, everyone probably would have understood that.

“You know what, that actually worked out for me, because every time they chanted that, I focused a little more, I beat up on them a little bit harder.”

On baseball's steroid era, and whether he was involved in steroid use:

"At the time, all I wanted was to compete. To me, it was normal. There were so many players doing it that it was normal. ... You could see the guys being beefed up from one year to the next. I told so many guys, I remember Brady Anderson going from 40 homers to nearly seven the next year. I saw Luis Gonzalez go from 57 to, what, 17 the next year? It was weird. It was weird.

"Everybody just admired what I was doing. Everyone was so caught up in my success. But I thought I was doing what I was supposed to do. All I wanted to do was to compete, to help the Red Sox win. It didn’t matter to me what I did individually. If I left Boston without that ring, without that championship, I’d feel like a bitter man right now. It didn’t matter to me that I was called a prima donna when I would miss two or three starts. I never did a steroid to [recuperate] in the time those guys would recup. I know how much a quad would probably hurt someone or a hamstring, how long it would take. I saw guys like [Clemens] sometimes get a hamstring or a quad or something, and in two days, he was right back and throwing 97.

"I don’t know what went on. I certainly know that he recuped a lot quicker than I would, and I was younger. I pitched less, a lot less, than Roger did. He wasn’t young. He was a Hall of Famer before he got into that.
It always seemed not normal, that at 44, 43, you’re going to pitch that hard. I don’t think so. I’m living proof of it. I was young and dominate, but my career started going down, down, down, down as I was going up in age. There’s nothing you can do. If you do it normally, numbers are going to catch up to you, age is going to catch up to you, hitters are going to catch up to you, your fastball is going to go down a little bit and slowly it will take you away from the game. That’s what happened to me."

For WEEI's transcript of its interview with Martinez, click HERE.



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