|FILE - In this Nov. 4, 2009, file photo, Philadelphia Phillies' Pedro Martinez looks at his ball after giving up a two-run home run to New York Yankees' Hideki Matsui during the second inning of Game 6 of the Major League Baseball World Series in New York. Martinez said Thursday, Aug. 5, 2010, he plans to stay retired despite offers the past two weeks from several teams. The three-time Cy Young Award winner says he turned them down but was flattered by the invitations. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)|
Pedro Martinez rejects offers to return to majors
NEW YORK—Pedro Martinez's phone has been ringing during the last two weeks.
Several major league teams -- the three-time Cy Young Award winner won't say which ones -- called with offers to pitch. He was flattered by the invitations but turned them all down.
"Very tempting," he said Thursday during an interview with The Associated Press, "but I have already committed to my kids for the rest of the year and going on vacations, and made plans already with the family."
Martinez signed in July 2009 with Philadelphia, his fifth team in a big league career that began in 1992. He went 5-1 with a 3.63 ERA in nine starts down the stretch and reached the World Series for the second time.
"He knows his body," Los Angeles Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. "I think if he felt that he wanted to do it, and that he could do it, that he'd come back if something made sense for him."
The 38-year-old righty has spent most of this summer in the Dominican Republic.
"It feels real good to be able to be at home and get to hug mom every time you want, see her every time you want," he said. "To be able to go to the baseball field and see your kids playing is really something."
Still, it's been trying in some ways. He called this summer a test for him, adjusting to "a different life."
"I do miss competing, being out there -- the atmosphere, I do miss it," he said. "Some other things I don't miss: the media and the pressure of just being asked to do, and being asked questions every day. And actually just the load, six months just working, not being able to stop, not being able to really do anything or behave like a normal person."
He came to New York this week for an event with Gillette, helping promote the company's Ultimate Summer Job Tour. While at home, he finds himself surrounded whenever he goes to watch his 11- and 12-year-olds play ball.
"I get a lot of kids distracted. Sometimes they got to go cover left field, but they're over here talking to me, getting an autograph," he said. "I try to sign as quickly as possible -- Go! Go! Go! You've got to go!"
He was pleased Alex Rodriguez hit his 600th home run. Especially, he said, because the New York Yankees star is Dominican-American. Unlike some, he doesn't have any qualms about A-Rod one day making the Hall of Fame. He thinks many of the sluggers under the cloud of actual or alleged steroid use, such as Rodriguez, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, belong in the Hall.
"I think whoever did what they did still deserves, just like Pete Rose. He belongs," Martinez said. "It doesn't matter what he did. He paid his dues already. He should be in the Hall of Fame. Those guys, it's going to take them a while, but sooner or later they're eventually going to make it. I hope they make it."
It's harder for Martinez to evaluate his own chances. He compiled a 219-100 record and a 2.93 ERA in 18 seasons, won five ERA titles and three strikeout crowns.
"I haven't really stopped to see what kind of numbers I have, but I think I have a chance, a legit chance," he said. "Some of the things I've done are really special."
In his hometown of Manoguayabo, a Santo Domingo suburb, he's donated land for a youth baseball field that he'd like to call "Little Fenway" in honor of the Boston Red Sox, his team for seven of his best seasons. He hopes to surround the field with tennis and volleyball courts.
Martinez's foundation is working with poor kids from the community.
"Those are the ones I'm embracing because I was like this, so I'm taking a lot of those kids and being a father to 800, 1000 kids and, hopefully, many more," he said.
Growing up, he didn't have a good field or real equipment.
"The baseball would be a piece of curtain or a piece of clothes or leaves from a tree," he said. "I remember taking my sisters' dolls there and using them as a ball. I'm pretty sure they don't regret it now, but back then it was a big deal," he said.
He has a ready smile and a laugh, just like he did in his playing days -- except when he was pitching. Martinez had a different personality when he took the mound,
"To me it was a great honor to have 60,000 people just chant my name, in favor or against. It doesn't matter. I made a difference," he said. "I'm not a baseball player when I'm not pitching -- I'm a goofball. I'm a normal man. I'll sit on any block."
But, oh, on the mound.
"That's business," he said. "I'm in a jungle, and I consider myself a lion. So I'm going to kill you if I'm hungry. And I was always hungry to win."