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Reaction speaks volumes

Pedro's comments puzzle Yankees

No, the pinstriped visitors didn't find pipes and slippers at their lockers when they arrived at Fenway Park yesterday afternoon. But the Bronx Daddies, as they were newly anointed by Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez Friday night, expressed surprise, amusement, and a certain amount of skepticism in the aftermath of Martinez's white-flag summation of his relationship to his biggest tormentors.

Mike Mussina, for one, probably wouldn't mind having a piece of the T-shirt sales that are certain to be brisk in the Bronx after Martinez said the Yankees were "his daddy."

"I think there's going to be a whole slew of them, now that you bring it up," said Mussina, who in the course of a relaxed give-and-take with a small cluster of reporters said he'd never heard anything quite like Martinez's comments, in which he said he wished the Yankees would "[expletive] disappear."

"The phrase is out there, and some of you guys are going to run with it, and somebody will make a T-shirt out of it," Mussina said.

Mussina said he couldn't imagine uttering similar thoughts in public, but expressed some empathy for Martinez.

"I think he's frustrated," Mussina said. "He's lost three in a row now, which hasn't happened in I don't know how long [1998]. We've beaten him the last two games, and he hasn't pitched well either time. It wasn't like it was 2-1. I think he's frustrated.

"They pulled themselves all the way back into the race and he hasn't thrown very well, so he's frustrated. We've all been frustrated. That's the way he expressed it. He felt like saying it, so he said it. Would I say it? I doubt it."

Yankee slugger Gary Sheffield said he was unaware of Martinez's comments, which Mussina had relayed to him on the Yankee bus on the way back from the ballpark Friday night.

"I didn't hear him say it," Sheffield said. "I've got to hear him say it." Former Sox reliever Tom Gordon, a former teammate of Martinez in Boston, was stunned to learn of the remarks.

"I never heard anything like that," he said, shaking his head.

Could he conceive of Roger Clemens or Randy Johnson making similar comments? Again, a shake of the head.

"I can't imagine it," he said.

Yankees DH Ruben Sierra, who delivered the tie-breaking single off Martinez in the eighth inning of Friday night's 6-4 win, is a longtime friend of Martinez. They've shared the same trainer.

"Sometimes things aren't going to go the way you want, even if you have the best stuff in the world," Sierra said. "I thought he had the best stuff he's had this year when I faced him. A sharp changeup, a great breaking ball and a fastball that was 93, 94.

"But sometimes you feel that way, and you're still not going to beat us. Sometimes things don't go your way, but you have to keep fighting."

Sierra said he wasn't surprised to see Martinez, who had thrown 101 pitches in the first seven innings, come out for the eighth. "He was sharp, throwing good in the eighth," said Sierra. "I think they wanted him to finish the eighth. If [Hideki] Matsui gets a hit instead of a home run, I think they get him out of the game. But after the home run, they wanted to see if he could go 1-2-3, but it wasn't like that."

Sierra fell behind Martinez, 0 and 2, as the Sox pitcher threw him a fastball low and away and a back-door curveball. The next pitch was an inside fastball that Sierra fought off and fouled away.

"He saw that I was right on it," Sierra said. "I thought he might throw me the changeup next, so I stayed back, which is what gave me the time to hit the breaking ball he threw me. It was a good pitch, but I hit it because I stayed back. I got lucky to hit that pitch."

Alex Rodriguez was aware of what Martinez said, but dismissed the notion that the Sox ace was conceding anything.

"All I can tell you," he said, "is that Pedro is one of the greatest competitors that I've ever seen and one of the most brilliant guys I know on the field. I don't look at his comments. I always judge him when he is on the mound, and he's always been a great competitor."

Yankee manager Joe Torre, who also chalked up Martinez's comments to frustration, echoed Rodriguez's sentiments. "By no stretch of the imagination do we feel we have his number," Torre said. "I've said many times, we don't try to beat Pedro. We try to win the game he pitches, hopefully outlast him." Mussina's last word? "Why can't we all play ball and go home when the game's over?"

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