Pedro Martinez isn’t exactly sure what his new job with the Red Sox will entail. There will be days he pulls on a uniform and works with young pitchers on a remote practice field and others when he sits in a conference room at Fenway Park.
All he knows is that he wants to help.
“This team, this city, it’s in my heart,” he said on Thursday after being a named a special assistant to general manager Ben Cherington. “I feel like I can add something and help the team be great again.”
Martinez, now 41, retired after pitching in the 2009 World Series for the Philadelphia Phillies. He has lived the privileged life of a retired legend since, spending time with his family in the Dominican Republic.
Now Martinez wants to return to baseball and the Sox were the only team he considered.
“I was always really close to Ben, before and now. I offered my help,” he said.
The Red Sox leapt at it. They see Martinez as being a positive influence on their pitching prospects and lending an experienced voice to personnel decisions. His role will be similar to that of Jason Varitek, who rejoined the team last fall. Both were involved with the organizational meetings at Fenway earlier this week.
Nothing further has been scheduled. Martinez will determine to what degree he gets involved.
“All these are to be determined,” manager John Farrell said. “I say that not coming from an area of not knowing. Both with Jason and Pedro, it’s going to come down to how much time is available.
“How can we craft and carve out responsibilities that are meaningful? These are two accomplished players. They’re not going to start something that they can’t give themselves fully to. But personal commitments are going to restrict that somewhat.”
Said Martinez: “The situation is right. They need people like me that can probably relate to the players, relate to the [front] office and have the good communication and interest.
“It all depends on how much is needed from me. I love being on the field. I’ll spend as much time as they need. Definitely I need time to be with Mama, be at home [and] be a father. I won’t sacrifice that.”
Martinez brings an incredible resume to his new position.
The righthander was a three-time Cy Young Award winner and eight–time All-Star. During his 18-year career, Martinez was 219-100 with a 2.93 ERA and 3,154 strikeouts in 2,827 1/3 innings.
Martinez was 117-37 with a 2.52 ERA with the Sox from 1998-2004. His postseason heroics included seven shutout innings against the Cardinals in Game 3 of the 2004 World Series.
Terry Francona, in town for the Boston BBWAA dinner, said the Sox made a smart move.
“[Martinez] has a photographic memory for pitching. How far it goes is probably up to him, how much he wants to get into it. He’s got the intelligence. He knows as much about pitching as anybody," he said.
Accomplished players sometimes aren’t good instructors, their vast skills being difficult to teach. Martinez knows that.
“I’m not going to force them to be like me. It’s impossible to be like me. It’s impossible to be Roger [Clemens]. But you can also pick and choose some of the things you can help them with and hopefully help out,” he said.
“I love to teach; I love to deal with the players. I have a very good relationship with the players. I’m also fun. I like to have fun and I think they need a little bit of that in the clubhouse.”
Fenway could use a court jester after the collapse in 2011 and last season’s joyless last-place finish under Bobby Valentine. Martinez will add some mirth to what has been a depressing scene.
“There was something missing in the clubhouse, something missing in the players, something missing in the front office, around Fenway, honestly,” Martinez said.
Lefthanded reliever Andrew Miller is excited at the idea of having Martinez as a resource.
“I’m sure he sees the game differently than I do, or any of us,” Miller said. “He was so accomplished and so respected. How can you not want to talk to him?”
Martinez already has a close relationship with 23-year-old Rubby De La Rosa, one of the pitching prospects obtained from the Dodgers in August.
De La Rosa, whose grandmother once babysat Pedro and his brother Ramon in the Dominican, throws a changeup that he’s proud of. But Martinez, the master of that pitch, can surely refine it.
“He’s a good kid. Right away, we click. We'll continue to click. I'm going to see him soon,” Martinez said. “That kid can surprise anybody.”
Martinez said he would not interfere with the work done by Farrell or new pitching coach Juan Nieves. He’ll be available to any player who wants his advice.
“I see them as teammates. I see them as friends. I see them as players that could probably get some advice from an old goat like me,” Martinez said.
After meeting with reporters for 25 minutes, Martinez left the room with a smile. He’s ready for his next adventure in baseball.
“We’re going to have some fun,” he said. “Trust me on that.”