FORT MYERS, Fla. — Pedro Martinez was back at Red Sox camp today, in uniform and on the field. He spent a few minutes chatting with Daniel Bard at one point and fans flocked to the scene to watch.
“We were just talking generally about pitching and when I looked up everybody had a camera pointed at us,” Bard said. “It was cool to talk to him.”
One of Martinez’s assignments will be working with Felix Doubront, the young lefthander.
“He’s so young and so full of talent that sometimes you take for granted the opportunity we’re given,” Martinez said. “But the same way it comes, the same way it could go. All it takes is a bad injury and you’re out of baseball. And the only thing that prevents injuries is hard work.
“I believe he just doesn’t know. He hasn’t been taught that he’s going to be held accountable for his performance out there and the way he looks and that this is really a serious business. I think it takes a little while to get him mentally prepared to understand the responsibility that he has on top of his shoulders with the whole Boston community and the team.
“I think he’s so young, nowadays these pitchers come up so young, so talented that they don’t realize how much they’re going to be counted on. I think Doubront is a good example. I think he needs to know that he’s really important to this team, to the organization, to the community, to Boston, and that they’re counting on him to be one of the big men. At the same time he’s still a young kid trying to develop and he’s already in the big leagues trying to perform.”
“You have to take that into consideration and be patient with him, and at the same time guide him through it. I think I can be a good asset to him to learn about some of the things that he has to do.”
Asked if he would be tough on Doubront, Martinez said, “Baseball’s not easy. It wasn’t easy for me. You have to expect it to be tough. One thing I’m going to be with him, just like I always was with you guys, I’m going to be straightforward and I’m going to say it the way it is. Point-blank, the way it is. If he wants to hear it or if he doesn’t, that’s OK.. I just know that I want the best for him and I want the best for the organization and I would love to help. I can’t handle the fact that I have all this knowledge and not give it away. I would love to give it away, and I hope he sees me as a good example of hard work and dedication and will to do things.
“Being out of shape a little bit is normal, probably not as much as before. But being out of shape a little bit in spring training, this is the only place where you can be a little bit out of shape. You’re here to get in shape. So he has plenty of time to get in shape. I think he’s going to do it right. I think if he does put emphasis on the things that he’s going to do, he’s going to do it exactly the way he should. So I wouldn’t panic that much on that. At the same time, you have to hold him accountable to go and do his work every day.”
Martinez is Red Sox royalty. He was 117-37 with a 2.52 ERA from 1998-2004 with an ERA+ of 190. When you factor in that he was pitching in the AL East at the height of the Steroids Era, his numbers look even more remarkable.
Pedro talked to the media after the workout. Here are some of the highlights:
Any chance he comes back? “No, no, no. No chance.”
What is he hoping to add to the Red Sox? “I hope to add some knowledge. Any help I can give the staff in every aspect. It could be mechanically, it could be on the field, it could be off the field, it could be mentally.”
On putting the Red Sox uniform back on: “You know what? It’s weird but feels like the first day to me. I’m so excited to be part of this team and part of the season that we have here. ... It felt kind of funny to be putting on a pair of [baseball] pants again.”
On watching the 2012 Red Sox: “There’s nothing you can do from in front of your TV. Sometimes, the few games that I stopped to watch at Fenway, it was painful to see that the chemistry wasn’t there, that the team wasn’t doing what they were supposed to. I was trying to be optimistic about the team staying together all year. That never happened. I know that is one of the biggest reasons the team didn’t perform to the level everybody expected.”
Why did he want to the return to the Sox now? “I can’t sit still for long. I have to work. I grew up working.”
On still being competitive: “It’s different for me to deal with because I can’t pitch. I would love to brush someone back. ‘Hey, hey, get off the plate. This is my area.’ Now I have to sit and watch and rely on someone to do it.”
On pitching inside: “I think it’s all part of the game. You have to pitch inside and you have to brush them back when you have to. You have to actually make them feel uncomfortable all the time if you want to have success. One of the things that makes you feel uncomfortable is a pitch inside that is close to you at 99. Rubby De La Rosa or Doubront or Lester can get anybody uncomfortable. I will preach it and I will say they need to pitch inside if they want to have success.”
How many players did Pedro hit on purpose? “Probably 90 percent of them. But it was always retaliation for my teammates.”
Even Karim Garcia [in 2003]? “Not on purpose. It didn’t even hit him, it hit the bat. Lucky bastard.”
Gerald Williams? “Not on purpose. Gerald Williams? No. Karim Garcia? No. Some others, I don’t know. There are some that were in retaliation.”
On whether a great player can be a great coach: “This may sound weird, but I never considered myself a great player. I made myself along with my teammates a better player than I was. I never thought I was a superstar. I worked like I was a hungry man going for the first game in the big leagues. I have a lot of me with Pettitte, Maddux, Clemens, Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, Bret Saberhagen, believe it or not, someone I really analyzed a lot. Tom Glavine, I have a lot of little things that I learned from everybody and I tried to stack them all together and use them.”
Did he ever let go the anger he felt when the Red Sox let him go and sign with the Mets? “I never held it against them because you have to understand, baseball has a dark side and that’s the negotiations.”