RED SOX NOTEBOOK
Schilling gets call for Game 1
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Weary of fielding questions about his role in the postseason, Pedro Martinez asked the Red Sox before Tuesday's game against the Devil Rays to reveal their plans. So it was that Martinez, the staff ace from the moment he joined the Sox in 1997, learned he will follow Curt Schilling in the playoff rotation, starting Game 2 of the Division Series Wednesday.
"Without a doubt, he deserves to be the No. 1 starter," Martinez said. "I hope he performs just like he has. You guys need to respect that guy. He's been better than Pedro Martinez and better than anyone on our team."
Martinez finished the regular season 16-9 with a 3.90 ERA while Schilling went 21-6 with a 3.26 ERA. Martinez said he was not offended to be slotted behind Schilling or by the way the Sox informed him. In self-deprecating fashion, he said, "I should actually pitch No. 5 or not even pitch in the playoffs if I continue to pitch the way I have."
Martinez also said he feels good enough about his relationship with the Sox that he would welcome re-signing with the team. He is eligible for free agency after the season.
"There's no need for me to go anywhere else," he said. "If they want to try to get something done, I'm going to give them a chance. The fact that I'm going to give them a chance is enough to tell them we should get something done."
Schilling was not available after the game but said earlier that he would be honored to pitch Game 1 of the playoffs. He also would start Game 5, if necessary. The Sox appear to be leaning toward Bronson Arroyo as their Game 3 starter, while they continue to weigh whether to tap Derek Lowe or Tim Wakefield if they need someone to start Game 4.
Manager Terry Francona, who had yet to inform Schilling he will start the opener, had wanted to wait to announce the decision but honored Martinez's request.
"We were trying not to talk about it out of respect for his start [last night]," Francona said. "But he asked us, so we told him."
With the Sox still clinging to a thread of hope in the division race, Francona had yet to announce his pitching rotation for the final four games of the regular season in Baltimore other than to say Wakefield would start the opener tomorrow. Francona said Schilling would not work tomorrow, which suggests Schilling either will make a two-inning tuneup Saturday or prepare for Game 1 by working in the bullpen.
Francona would not further tip his hand other than to say Pedro Astacio would be available to work in the day-night doubleheader Saturday and the Sox might use a group of relievers to work Sunday's finale. Astacio dropped the appeal of his three-game suspension for throwing at Kenny Lofton of the Yankees Sunday at Fenway Park after his penalty was reduced to two games. He began serving the suspension last night.
Astacio could replace Schilling, who is scheduled to start Saturday, or relieve Schilling after a short tuneup. Arroyo is scheduled to start the other game, in which Schilling also could go a couple of innings.
Lowe, who struggled in a 10-8 Red Sox victory Tuesday, surrendering five runs in 2 1/3 innings, remained upbeat enough about his chances for the postseason that he maintained his sense of humor.
"I'm pitching Game 1," he joked. "You didn't know that?"
The odd man out undoubtedly will be disappointed but is expected to accept the decision without disrupting the team.
"I don't make those decisions," Wakefield said of the possibilities. "Whatever they want to do, I'll do."
Miffed at national commentators who ridiculed the Sox for celebrating Monday after they clinched a playoff berth, Trot Nixon said, "It's unfair to always pick us out as the people who celebrate. People should celebrate when they get a chance to go to the postseason. We're professional enough to know we've got to keep playing well." . . . Jim Beattie, vice president of player personnel for the Orioles, acknowledged to the Washington Post that the O's placed the call to the commissioner's office that resulted in Major League Baseball banning Johnny Pesky from the Sox dugout at Fenway Park. Beattie denied the call was retribution for the Sox asking the umpires at Fenway Park last week to check Rodrigo Lopez's cap for substances. "I'm from New England," Beattie said. "I love Johnny Pesky. It had to do with the Red Sox not following the rules. We all have to live by the same rules." . . . Keeping with his plan to selectively rest regulars while fielding a competitive team, Francona started last night with Johnny Damon and Kevin Millar on the bench. Dave Roberts was scheduled to replace Damon in center field and at the top of the order but was a late scratch for personal reasons and yielded to Gabe Kapler . . . Among the Sox most keenly interested in the Expos leaving Montreal for Washington were Francona, Martinez, Orlando Cabrera, and bench coach Brad Mills, all former Expos. "I'm sure that '94 fiasco was the beginning of the end up there," Francona said, referring to the strike-shortened season in which the Expos arguably fielded the best team in baseball. "It's a shame, but it's in everybody's best interests to move on." Said Martinez: "I'm very sad about it, "but at least they're going to have a home." Cabrera said he'll believe it when he sees it. "Every year since 1996, they said it was the last season in Montreal, and they always came back," Cabrera said.
With 612 extra-base hits, the Sox rank second in major league history for extras in a season to last year's Sox team, which rang up 649. Millar's winning home run Tuesday off Danys Baez pushed the Sox past the 1996 Mariners, who recorded 607 extra-base hits with a lineup that included Alex Rodriguez, Ken Griffey Jr., Edgar Martinez, and Jay Buhner. With two doubles last night, the Sox are four shy of the major league record (373) set by the Cardinals in 1930 and matched by the 1997 Sox . . . Roberts was returning to Boston to be with his family and was expected to rejoin the team tomorrow . . . Tampa Bay center fielder Rocco Baldelli returned home to Rhode Island because of a family illness. He is expected to play again tomorrow . . . Martinez, whose five strikeouts last night pushed his season total to 227, joined Schilling (203 strikeouts) as the only pair of Sox pitchers in history to each fan more than 200 batters in a season . . . Millar has been hit by pitches 16 times this season, the most for the Sox since Don Baylor was hit 24 times in 1987 . . . The Sox, who will open the 2005 season against the Yankees in the Bronx April 3 or 4, depending on whether it's an ESPN game, will host the Braves in an unusual May visit (May 20-22), Cincinnati (June 13-15), and Pittsburgh (June 17-19) next year in interleague play, according to a major league official. The Sox will visit St. Louis (June 6-8), the Cubs (June 10-12), and Philadelphia (June 24-26). The schedule remains subject to change.
Gordon Edes of the Globe staff contributed to this report.
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