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Going concerns

Garciaparra, Martinez address contract issues upon arriving in camp

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Unleashing his most emotional rebuke of the Red Sox in his 10-year run with the organization, Nomar Garciaparra yesterday raised serious questions about his long-term compatibility with the team after its failed effort to replace him with Alex Rodriguez.

The traditionally guarded Garciaparra expressed his pained reaction to the Rodriguez controversy just moments after Pedro Martinez, who rarely cloaks his emotions, coolly downplayed concerns that his relationship with the Sox, like Garciaparra's, could end after the season. The rare reversal of public personas unfolded in back-to-back news conferences as the two franchise players arrived at spring camp to begin the final years of their contracts.

Neither superstar completely closed the door on returning. But while Martinez focused more on his disdain for the media than the apparent lack of progress on a multiyear contract extension, Garciaparra, who majored in management at Georgia Tech, left no doubt that he believes Sox executives treated him shabbily and have failed to rectify the perceived abuse.

Garciaparra was honeymooning in Hawaii when he learned that the Sox were trying to trade Manny Ramirez to the Rangers for Rodriguez. He would have been dealt to the White Sox for Magglio Ordonez, though he also saw reports citing the possibility he would be shipped to the Dodgers.

"I was definitely hurt by a lot of it," he said. "I probably felt like anyone else would feel after spending their whole career in one organization and having to find out you've been traded, or you're pretty much gone, over the television."

Asked if the team had explained the situation to his satisfaction, Garciaparra gave every indication that the Sox brass, in his view, came up short.

"Have they done anything?" he responded. "Well, I pretty much got a lot my information, like I said, off the television. That's really what I kind of just base things off of and what you guys had written. I kind of just stopped reading it after a while and left it alone."

Indeed, he said he felt as if the Sox left him in limbo.

"A couple of times there, I didn't know if I was supposed to be renting a place in Tucson or down in Vero Beach or wherever," he said, referring to the sites of the White Sox and Dodgers training camps. "I'm just glad I still have my connections here in Fort Myers to get a place to rent."

While Garciaparra vented -- and indicated he would forgo further public reaction to the controversy -- Martinez abandoned the confrontational tone he struck last February and indicated he was prepared to accept his fate, whether or not it involves the Sox beyond this year.

Last February, Martinez issued an ultimatum that he would walk after this year if the Sox did not pick up his $17.5 million option by Opening Day. They did so in the second week of the season.

Asked about the prospect of starting this season without an extension, Martinez said, "That won't bother me. I'm actually aware that it's not up to me to get a new contract. I'm just going to go and compete like a professional for my year, and if they don't want to sign me, that's fine. I'm pretty sure I'll probably get a job with somebody else. But if they do, I'll be more than happy to stay here."

Martinez said the Sox have shown little inclination to reach an agreement before the season.

"There's no talk," he said. "None. I'm not expecting it and I'm not looking forward to it. The ball's in their court."

A Sox official said the team has held preliminary talks with Martinez's agent, Fernando Cuza, and plans to hold more substantive negotiations.

As for the media, Martinez remains miffed about what he perceived as unfair criticism of him last year, particularly over his participation in the opening ceremony of the Pan Am Games in the Dominican Republic, for which he left the team.

"I don't like you guys," he said. "I don't like talking. But I have to. I do it, especially just to get along, not be like a bad apple like everybody wants to treat me in Boston sometimes."

In Garciaparra's case, the Sox official said the team expects to step up talks with his agent, Arn Tellem, and denied reports that recent negotiations have not gone well.

General manager Theo Epstein has made it clear he will not re-sign all of the team's core players who are potential free agents. The others are Derek Lowe and Jason Varitek. In addition, David Ortiz, Scott Williamson, Pokey Reese, and Doug Mirabelli could be eligible for free agency after the season.

Epstein has not disclosed his priority list for the prospective free agents. But no one disputes that relations between the Sox and Garciaparra were hurt by the Rodriguez talks. Things reached a nadir when Tellem and principal owner John W. Henry clashed over the team's handling of the matter.

Amid the dispute, it was disclosed that Garciaparra rejected a four-year, $60 million offer before last season (he had countered at $68 million) and that the Sox had reduced the offer to $48 million in the run-up to the Rodriguez talks.

Garciaparra said he was stunned by the lower offer, believing the sides planned to negotiate a compromise of their initial proposals. And he was hurt that the team apparently had shifted its focus to Rodriguez without informing him.

"When I heard about it, I was thinking, well, the priorities are obviously not for me," he said. "They're obviously for someone else. That was pretty evident throughout this whole winter."

He said the rift may not be irreparable, though he raised the possibility that he could be traded before the season ends or wind up with another team next year. But he suggested the saga over the winter prepared him for a possible departure.

"Basically, I was gone, so I dealt with that already," Garciaparra said. "As far as I was concerned, I was traded. It was a done deal. I was shipped off to a new team.

"I don't know what the future holds. All I know is day to day. That's all I can go by right now."

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