CAP CANA, Dominican Republic — Pedro Martinez is comfortably retired, having turned down all entreaties to pitch again since he lost the final game of the 2009 World Series.
He will be eligible for the Hall of Fame in two years and surely will be elected on the first ballot after what was a brilliant career. That he pitched at the height of what has come to be known as the “Steroid Era” only enhances what Martinez accomplished on the mound.
“I never had a complaint. I don’t have it. I think I did it the best way possible,” he said on Friday. “What would have happened if I had a level playing field? It’s something to be guessed. This is the same body that you saw, except for a couple of more pounds.”
Martinez offered no firm opinion on the Hall of Fame candidacies of Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds, pointing out they had impressive statistics before “everything exploded.”
“It’s really difficult for me to choose either one,” Martinez said. “I would have loved to face Roger Clemens when he was Roger Clemens with nothing. I would have loved to face him all the time.
“I was clean. I know I was clean. That’s all I can say. I was out there and they got the best out of me. Beat me or not, that was the best I had, and clean. I wish it were the same way for every one of them.”
Clemens, another former Red Sox star, was named as a steroids user in the Mitchell Report and denied it. He was later acquitted of lying to Congress about his drug use.
Martinez said he often pitched while hurting, particularly at the end of his career.
“In my last years with the Mets, I was pushed too far. I was going too far with the pain,” he said. “I did it naturally, I rehabbed naturally. I went through struggles a lot naturally. Today I can actually sit back, relax, and enjoy the flight because I did it clean and my integrity is right where it belongs.”
Martinez is now devoted to his family and charitable causes. He spoke Friday at an event to promote a celebrity golf tournament hosted by former teammate David Ortiz that raises money for pediatric care.
But when the time is right — and it could be soon — Martinez plans to join the Red Sox front office in some capacity and learn baseball from a new angle.
“That’s what I want to do, I want to be there,” Martinez said. “To get close to Ben Cherington and [Larry] Lucchino, learn a little bit and see if I like the office or if I like more on the field.
“I’m just going to get my feet wet and learn and then decide what I’m really going to do.”
Martinez has no desire to coach on a full-time basis. He envisions having a similar role to that of Jason Varitek, who is a special assistant to Cherington.
“I would like to have access to the field and be in the field sometimes. But not all the time,” Martinez said. “If I wanted to live that life, I would have probably played a couple of more years.”
Given his knowledge of baseball, pitching in particular, Martinez could be a valuable asset. The three-time Cy Young Award winner had a 2.93 earned run average over 18 seasons and struck out 3,154. Martinez was 117-37 with a 2.52 ERA in seven memorable seasons for the Red Sox.
“It’s just a matter of time,” he said. “Right now, the team has priorities that I don’t need to get involved in. I think they need to get their priorities in place first and I’ll help out later on with whatever. We’ll find the right time.”
Part of Martinez’s motivation is seeing the team fall into last place. The Sox have missed the postseason for three consecutive years. That hadn’t happened since 2000-02.
“It hurts to see a team like that, a team that you care for, people that you care for, a city that you care for,” Martinez said. “Especially the fans. I know what the fans really are, and they’re loyal. They’re probably the most loyal fans that I’ve ever seen. They deserve better than they got last year.
“I’m hoping that I can help a lot so they can bounce back as soon as possible.”
Martinez described himself as “really good friends” with Cherington.
“I’ll give him equal support. Any time he needs me, any time the Red Sox call upon me to do anything, I’m more than happy,” Martinez said. “They have shown the same for me.”
Martinez said his favorite moment with the Red Sox was not on the mound. It came a day after winning the 2004 World Series title when he exited the team bus in Boston holding the trophy.
“It was like I took a huge load off my shoulders when I handed out the trophy to Boston,” he said. “I was chosen to bring it to Boston. It took me seven years and we did it. When I finally brought it down from the bus, mission accomplished.”
Martinez said he still enjoys spending time in New England.
“The parade has never gone away,” he said. “Just knowing that we won, it was a magical day.”