Feeling he had been a good teammate and friend to Pedro Martinez and had gladly accepted being the No. 2 pitcher behind him, Curt Schilling expressed surprise and disappointment yesterday over Martinez's parting shots at him, general manager Theo Epstein, and manager Terry Francona.
Francona and Epstein resisted getting into verbal sparring with Martinez, but Schilling didn't back down, particularly peeved at Martinez's remarks about Francona.
On Thursday, Martinez told the Boston Herald Francona was "manipulated by the front office," basically indicating that Francona was a yes-man for management. Yesterday, at a new conference in the Dominican Republic, Martinez stayed on the attack. "[The Red Sox] will field the best bad team in baseball history," he said.
Schilling was quick to come to Francona's defense.
"The GM is more involved, but it works. We won a World Series," Schilling said. Francona responded from his home in the Philadelphia area last night.
"I'm a little bit surprised [Martinez] said it," Francona said. "I don't think he would have said it had we given him that fourth year."
Francona said he worked very hard to accommodate Martinez's wishes for workouts and going home to the Dominican at the All-Star break. Francona did all he could to make sure he could work with Martinez.
"I worked my [butt] off to make it work," the manager said. "I worked my [butt] off with every player, Pedro included. He talks about respect and that respect is a two-way street with front office, ownership."
Francona caught himself at that point and said, "I don't want to do what he's doing. I chose to deal with Pedro. Nobody had a gun to my head. I did what I thought was right. I chose to deal with things."
Francona said he knew all about Martinez's workout schedule being different than the rest of the team's when he took the job and knew he had to make it work.
"I thought I did my background checking. I thought so. When he was going to leave at the All-Star break, I spoke to the team about it and made sure nobody had a problem with it," Francona said.
Rehabilitating his surgically repaired right ankle at his home in Arizona, Schilling denied he ever said Martinez received "preferential treatment," as had been reported. But he was strong in his conviction that Martinez marched to his own drummer: "He did what he wanted, when he wanted." Schilling also cringed at Martinez staying in Boston for Game 6 of the American League Championship Series in New York, wondering aloud why he wasn't around for such a huge game.
Schilling said Martinez "was scheduled to work out of the bullpen" in Game 7.
Schilling said nobody could deny that Martinez was on his own schedule, "not even Pedro." Schilling said he didn't know whether to say something about it or just accept it as others on the team had. And while he said there was reaction to Martinez's methods, the rest of the team was never affected.
Having said that, Schilling indicated that "Petey and I got along every day. I don't know if anyone cheered for him more than me.
"There's no mistaking how much respect I have for him and what an honor it was to pitch with him. I learned a lot about pitching watching him. I made that clear to him."
Schilling acknowledged he thought the "barometer [Martinez] used for respect is money." Schilling said that while he was negotiating with the Red Sox last fall, "I never looked at Pedro's salary as a parameter."
What's disappointing to Francona is that Martinez felt he needed to take parting shots, such as calling Epstein "arrogant" concerning the way he was dealing with negotiations.
"Taking shots at Theo; I'm more disappointed in that," Francona said. "I think it was last Saturday night in Anaheim at the winter meetings, I thought he was a Red Sox. I watched them bust their [butt] to sign him. I get a little bit more defensive when I hear this stuff because I know how hard we tried."
Francona, like Schilling, doesn't plan on discussing the comments with Martinez.
"He's with the Mets now, and we have to move forward and get our own team together," Francona said. "Nobody respects what he's done in his career more than me. That's the hard thing. He's an icon, and it's tough to talk about him as being gone."
Epstein also took the higher road with his former righthander, who also said yesterday, "The Mets have shown me more respect in days than the Red Sox have in seven years."
Epstein indicated he had never reached a deal with Martinez, despite the fact that Martinez had asked for and received a third year guaranteed. "I know Pedro fairly well having been around him three years. Pedro was a brilliant pitcher," Epstein said. "He's a very intelligent guy off the field, an emotional person. I didn't put much stock in what he said. I didn't put much stock in his `Who's your daddy?' comments that he made. He did wonderful things for us for seven years and I think he'll go on to do wonderful things for the Mets."