Saturday, October 24, 2009
Pedro wants Yankees in World Series
PHILADELPHIA -- Pedro Martinez stood on the mound in The House That Ruth Built many times during big games, listening to the taunts, jeers and insults from Yankees fans.
If New York advances to the World Series against the Philadelphia Phillies, Martinez would love to get the ball again at Yankee Stadium, the new $1.5 billion version. He won't be intimidated by the crowd, that's for sure.
"To have 60,000 people looking at one guy to deliver that ball and all of them chanting 'Pay-dro! Pay-dro!' is a great honor," Martinez said in a recent interview with The Associated Press. "To pitch at Yankee Stadium on one of the greatest stages to play on, it's an unbelievable feeling."
The defending champion Phillies haven't set their rotation for the World Series, which starts Wednesday in New York or Anaheim, Calif. Cliff Lee, who is 2-0 with a sparkling 0.74 ERA in three postseason starts, almost certainly will start the opener. Martinez or Cole Hamels would start Game 2 on the road.
Martinez pitched seven shutout innings in a 2-1 loss at Los Angeles in Game 2 of the NL championship series. Hamels is 1-1 with a 6.75 ERA in three playoff starts, a year after he dominated October.
Manager Charlie Manuel could base his decision on the opponent. Martinez might get the nod for the road start if the Phillies play the Yankees because he's used to pitching important games in New York.
The three-time Cy Young Award winner went 8-4 with a 2.95 ERA in 16 regular-season starts at the old Yankee Stadium. He is 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA in two postseason starts in the Bronx as a member of the Boston Red Sox. One of those was Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS when manager Grady Little left a tiring Martinez in to pitch the eighth inning with a 5-2 lead. Martinez gave up three runs and the Yankees won on Aaron Boone's homer in the 11th.
Overall, Martinez is 6-2 with a 3.13 ERA in 14 playoff appearances. He tossed seven shutout innings and earned the win in his only World Series start against St. Louis in Game 3 in 2004, helping the Red Sox to a sweep.
"He's been in the big moment, and I think that his performance the other day in Dodger Stadium, how good he pitched, he deserves another chance to go back out there," Manuel said. "I think he's still got quite a bit left. I was watching those playoff games that he pitched in [for the Red Sox]. I noticed his velocity on his fastball was sitting at like 87 to 91 mph.
"He was even better than that over there at Dodger Stadium. He knows how to pitch. He uses all of his pitches. His command is absolutely outstanding. He doesn't rely on throwing the ball by people anymore. He's a pitcher."
Martinez, who turns 38 on Sunday, spent the first half of the year home in the Dominican Republic after the New York Mets didn't offer him a contract following an injury-plagued season.
He signed a one-year deal with the Phillies during the All-Star break for a prorated share of $2 million plus incentives. Martinez turned out to be a key addition, going 5-1 with a 3.63 ERA in nine starts. The fun-loving Martinez also has been a perfect fit in Philadelphia's clubhouse.
"Pedro is a little bit different than who I thought he was going to be," Manuel said. "I always thought he was a little cocky, a little arrogant in some ways. Obviously, he's not arrogant at all, but he's very professional, and he studies the game, and he loves baseball, and he likes to be out there in the moment, and he thinks he can get anybody out. He doesn't back away, doesn't scare from nothing. He's very valuable on your team."
During the victory celebration after the Phillies eliminated the Dodgers in the NLCS, Martinez took a break from dousing teammates with champagne to answer questions. When asked if he would rather face the Angels or Yankees, Martinez didn't take the politically correct approach.
"I respect the Yankees. I love the Yankees. But I would love to beat them as bad as I look forward to them," Martinez said.
Reminded of his long history with the Yankees, Martinez smiled and said: "Really? They have a long history with me."
Martinez was part of several memorable moments in the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry. In the '03 ALCS, he fended off a charging Don Zimmer during a bench-clearing incident by shoving away the then-72-year-old coach.
After beating the Yankees in a regular-season game in 2001, Martinez said: "I don't believe in rivalries. I don't believe in curses. Wake up the damn Bambino, maybe I'll drill him in the [behind]."
And, there was the time a frustrated Martinez said this after another loss to New York: "I just tip my hat and call the Yankees my daddy."
"I was always an honest person. It's the way I was raised. I don't like to lie," Martinez said. "I got myself in trouble a couple times. I try to be as direct as possible and as polite as possible and not offend anybody, but I say it the way it is."