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'The Boss' sizing up Martinez for pinstripes

ST. LOUIS -- If you want no part of Pedro Martinez in pinstripes, which surely must be the general sentiment among Yankee fans, then you should be rooting hard for the Cardinals to smack him around.

Because if he throws a gem in the World Series people in the Yankee family fear it would be just the kind of thing to convince George Steinbrenner to throw big money at him as a free agent this winter.

A source within the Yankees confirmed Monday that The Boss is enamored of Pedro at the moment, seeing him as an answer to the Yankees' lack of front-line pitching. And while general manager Brian Cashman and other Yankee executives already have pointed out the negatives associated with signing Martinez, Steinbrenner may not be listening.

"He heard some of the same things about [Gary] Sheffield," the Yankee source said, "and Sheffield made him look good for signing him. He's not worried about all the stuff that comes with Pedro. The way he sees it, that's what he's paying Joe [Torre] to handle."

If Steinbrenner thinks Martinez is some pitching version of Sheffield, he hasn't been paying attention. The only rap on Sheffield, in the last several years anyway, was that he was too outspoken. No one questioned his attitude or his work habits. No one called him a prima donna.

Perhaps most significantly, the Yankee players loathe Martinez for his intimidation tactics over the years, especially after last year's playoff game where he threw at Karim Garcia and then made a threatening gesture toward Jorge Posada, a player he has mocked from the dugout for years when he wasn't pitching.

Yes, they felt much the same way about Roger Clemens, and Clemens won them over when he became a Yankee. But he did so partly by setting an example with his work ethic, by being a good teammate.

On the other hand, Martinez would be the ultimate test for Torre, and Derek Jeter, as well, in terms of getting him to buy into the team-first environment they have created together over the last nine years. Surely they wouldn't let him get away with life as he knows it with the Red Sox, operating by his own rules, apart from those his teammates follow.

You'd think Martinez would put all that aside in the playoffs, with a chance to win his first world championship. Yet he has continued to put himself first, creating problems for Red Sox manager Terry Francona.

One person close to the Red Sox manager said Francona only used Martinez in Game 7 against the Yankees to appease the righthander, who wanted the chance to pitch in that game, apparently as some sort of response to all "Who's your daddy" chants when he pitched Game 2 there.

Martinez requested to stay in Boston when the Red Sox returned to New York for Game 6, for the purpose of preparing to pitch in Game 7, and flew down last Tuesday night, missing part of Game 6 -- though there are whispers around the Red Sox that he never showed up at all.

In any case, Francona got snippy Monday when asked to explain again why he used Martinez in the Game 7 blowout.

"How many times do I have to explain this?" Francona asked.

He then repeated his story about how the Sox bullpen was on fumes, and he was trying to use Martinez to shorten the game, and once he got him up in the bullpen, he felt he had to bring him in.

It still didn't sound right. Francona is savvy enough to know that any sighting of Martinez would awaken the Yankee crowd, no matter the score. And any use of Martinez in that game meant he couldn't start Game 1 of the World Series, as he could have on his regular four days of rest.

Red Sox officials insist the plan all along was to give Martinez the extra rest they believe he needs at this time of the season, and have him start Game 3. That way, he'll be ready for Game 7 on regular rest, and whether it was planned or not, the strategy has worked out nicely.

So now let's see what he can do. Beyond all the clubhouse issues, Martinez seems to be little more than a six-inning pitcher who loses his effectiveness when he throws more than 100 pitches.

People close to the situation said the Red Sox have all but decided against offering him anything longer than a two-year deal, and he has made it clear he will be looking for at least three.

Maybe he can change the Sox' minds with an ace-like performance. More likely, he'll have Steinbrenner lusting after him if he shuts down the Cardinals.

That's reason enough to root against him.

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