FORT MYERS, Fla. — Pedro Martinez likely will be sitting on the media bench as “Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez” at this time next season after a first-ballot selection for Cooperstown.
For now, he’s “Red Sox Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez,” elected last month along with Roger Clemens, Nomar Garciaparra, and broadcaster Joe Castiglione.
But that’s good enough. Martinez hopes to take a more active role in the development of young pitchers in the Red Sox organization through his role as special assistant to general manager Ben Cherington, while also working in the final year of his deal with TBS as an analyst.
“I want to be more involved with the players,” said Martinez. “I would like to do a little bit less of the public appearances that they had me doing last year.
“Because when you get the results that I got when talking to [Drake] Britton, [Rubby] De La Rosa, [Brandon] Workman, all those kids, Webby [Allen Webster], you feel like a proud father and you want to be around your sons.
“I was just going blind, trying to touch in some places, but now I know that my influence can help a lot of those kids. I’d love to do it. I’d love to do it and spend more time with them this year.”
Last season, he did great work with Britton, helping the lefthander get over some personal demons — including a DUI charge last March 2 in Fort Myers (clocked at 111 miles per hour) — and focus on his pitching.
Martinez said he would have advised the Red Sox to consider Britton for the major league team out of camp. Britton eventually came up in July and did effective work out of the bullpen with a 3.86 ERA in 18 appearances.
“I was straightforward with him and I told him exactly what I would probably love to hear if I was in the same situation,” said Martinez Wednesday, his first day of duty at Sox camp. “I talked about his personal life, how he should treat some of the things that were happening, how much of a battle he wanted to put up after things like that happened.
“When I saw him struggling in Double A, I chose myself to go and see him and let him know that everything he had before was still there. It was just a matter of putting his mind, his heart, his desire where it had to be. He took it graciously, and thanks to God, he proved to everybody he was able to battle through it.”
Britton got his act together and earned Martinez’s respect.
“I’m extremely proud of him, extremely proud to see him overcome all that and actually pay me back,” Martinez said. “Pay me back, that’s all I wanted.
“I wanted to see him have success and to see him at the end of the year pitching so well and doing so well for the team, helping the team so much, it really made me like a proud father.”
Martinez hopes to emphasize more of the mental side of pitching in his instruction, feeling mechanics are something the coaches do a great job of teaching.
Martinez also believes he is a Hall of Famer.
“I’m looking forward to that,’’ he said. “There’s only so much I can do. As of now, I’m just like you, hoping and waiting. I think I should have a shot but it’s not up to me. I can only hope and wait.”
He is praying for former teammate Curt Schilling, who is recovering from cancer surgery.
“I sent a tweet to try to tell him that I’ll be praying for him and we’re going to keep him in our thoughts and prayers,” said Martinez. “ I don’t have his phone number, but I could probably get it from [traveling secretary] Jack [McCormick] later on, reach him out.
“It’s extremely sad, but I know Schill is a big-game pitcher, like I said in my tweet, and I hope that he competes the same way he did in big games.”
Martinez should have an active role in the next wave of pitching prospects.
“I thought [Anthony] Ranaudo was going to get a chance,” Martinez said. “When I saw him, I saw a guy that was completely different because of the history with his arm problems. I think he was delayed a little bit more [last year] just to be cautious because it was the first full year he was pitching in a few.
“[Henry] Owens, he’s a natural. I think it’s just a matter of keeping them healthy, and before you know it they’re going to be up. Those guys are full of talent. I was really impressed with the material we have in the minor leagues.”
John Farrell said Ryan Lavarnway has passed the early tests at first base and infield coach Brian Butterfield told the manager that Lavarnway is game-ready. “At this point, we would have no hesitation to put him at first,” said Farrell. “That’s the kind of work he’s done there and how quickly he’s caught on. It’s not just in terms of fielding a ground ball, it’s the nuances of the position. He’s a smart guy, he’s got great aptitude.” . . . David Ortiz watched Will Middlebrooks hit a few long balls in batting practice and said, “Boy, Will is strong.’’ The feeling is Middlebrooks has 30-40 home run power. “He has been productive, his work has been outstanding,” Farrell said. “He’s come in with a noticeable determination. And yet at the same time he’s doing everything we could have expected in terms of getting prepared. Spring training’s important for everybody, not just singling anyone out. But it’s evident by the work that he did in the offseason to add some strength, and looking forward to seeing it pay off on the field.” Farrell acknowledged there have been “some challenges along the way or stretches where things have been challenging for [Middlebrooks]; you’re still looking at a guy who’s got over 30 home runs in 650 at-bats.’’ Middlebrooks has 32 in 615 at-bats.
If you’re wondering about scenarios for Grady Sizemore, the comebacking center fielder does have minor league options remaining, but because he has five-plus years of service time, he must give his consent if the team wants to send him down. Right now, there’s no sense of that happening given his strong progression . . . Farrell said it will be fun to finally get into game action Thursday with the college doubleheader. “I think much like everybody else, really looking forward to it,” he said. “We’ll have guys get two at-bats. If that gives them four innings on the field defensively, that’s a start. But I think at this point in time in camp, you run through the team fundamentals, individual defense, all those things, and guys are looking forward to getting games started.”
Nick Cafardo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.