FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Just how eager were the Cincinnati Reds to face Pedro Martinez and Curt Schilling last night?
For a while yesterday afternoon, the only Reds player on the premises was Ken Griffey, and he hadn't even been scheduled to be here. The team bus finally arrived, more than 45 minutes late and well after Griffey had arrived in his own car.
"The fact that we were facing Pedro and Schilling, we had to try something," said eternally sunny first baseman Sean Casey. "I think someone slipped the bus driver a couple of bucks to find an alternate route, but someone on the bus knew the way and foiled our plans.
"It's tough enough the first couple of weeks in spring training, when you're facing guys wearing No. 84. But then having to face Pedro and Schilling back to back, when you're just trying to get your timing down in the first week of spring training, when you're usually looking for a guy from A ball or Double A by the fifth or sixth inning? That's tough."
With the legendary Sandy Koufax, a friend of Red Sox pitching coach Dave Wallace, watching from general manager Theo Epstein's suite, the best the Sox have to offer both worked last night.
Martinez, making his first start of the spring, allowed a first-inning run on a walk and a double by Griffey, who has never gotten a hit off him when it counts (0 for 12 with 5 whiffs in the regular season), then worked a 1-2-3 second in which the final batter he faced, Brandon Larson, looked at a third strike, Martinez's second K of the night, both called.
"The results don't matter right now," Martinez said after throwing 34 pitches, 20 for strikes. "The fact is, I feel healthy and strong."
As good as Martinez may have felt, his reliever-for-the-night, Schilling, felt even better in his 3 2/3 innings of work, in which he gave up an opposite-field first-pitch home run to Adam Dunn to start the fifth and a two-out double to Barry Larkin in the third, but struck out five, including his last batter of the night, Griffey, for the second out in the sixth. The Sox lost, 3-2, as Scott Williamson, making his first appearance of the spring, gave up Javier Valentin's RBI double in the eighth.
"I threw 45 pitches tonight and I felt strong as hell," Schilling said. "I felt like I could have pitched a normal game. That tells me I went out there relaxed, threw the ball, and pitched, instead of overthrowing." When the two worked together Sunday in the bullpen, Martinez said, he gave Schilling a few tips on throwing a changeup. The pitch would be a major addition to Schilling's arsenal, especially if he approached Martinez's mastery with it."He's doing pretty good," Martinez said. "He's very smart." Martinez said he is satisfied with his current repertoire of pitches, which does not include Schilling's specialty, a split-finger fastball.
Schilling and Martinez could not be more different in their pregame approaches. Schilling, who arrived wearing a Dave Parker vintage Pirates jersey, was at City of Palms Park more than four hours before the game. For a moment, manager Terry Francona, who should know better since he had Schilling for four years in Philadelphia, slipped up and said hello to the pitcher in the trainer's room. "I got the `stare' back," Francona said. "As soon as I saw that, I walked away."
Francona said Schilling has a way of finding things to motivate him. "It could be bobble-head day, and he'll [use that]," the manager said.
Martinez was about the last to arrive, showing up in a zippered white sweatsuit, and spent his time before the game visiting with former Sox coaches Tommy Harper and Jim Rice.
But one man's tunnel vision and another's laid-back attitude converge once they're on the hill.
Once again, Martinez waved away the notion that he and Schilling will push each other.
"To me, it's a great honor he's here, but I don't have to show him anything," he said. "To me, it really doesn't matter who's the Opening Day pitcher. He's as good as me, as anybody. He's not going to push me, I'm not going to push him."
Bob Hohler of the Globe staff contributed to this report.