Just like when he was in Boston as a player, Pedro Martinez played to the crowd in a more than 22-minute pre-game session with the press before tonight’s Sox-Mets game.
He opened the press conference by looking at the gaggle of media members and saying, “Oh, wow! Did I get traded?”
As close as Pedro came to taking a shot at the Red Sox was when he said he wished that principal owner John Henry and CEO Larry Lucchino were sitting beside him, so he could tell them that he was right.
“I wish [Henry] was here right now, so I could look at him and say to him that I got four years,” said Martinez. “Lucchino. I wish Lucchino was right here. I could tell Lucchino again like I did before when I tilted my glasses down and tell him that I got four years and he goes, ‘No, bull [expletive deleted].’ I told him I got four years, after that they were leaving for the Winter Meetings, so now you know how much time they had to work it out. I remember John Henry saying, ‘I don’t care how many years you got. Just get it done.’ Those were his exact words.”
Why didn’t the sides work it out? Pedro believes he’s partly to blame for publically expressing his desire to stay in Boston.
“I was stupid enough to say that I fell in love with Boston and that I didn’t want to leave,” he said. “They could tell that I was sensitive about it and I was flexible that way.
“They waited and waited and then at the last moment they thought I was going to be there and that was a big mistake because at the time I had to think about my family and my interests and I had to think about my career. I didn’t think I deserved to be wandering around [saying,] ‘Where can I get three years.’
“I didn’t think and I didn’t feel like I was one of those players that needs to be begging for one year to play somewhere. That’s exactly what I told them and it was true. I told them that somebody would believe I had three more years under my belt to go and perform. Too bad it wasn’t the Red Sox, until the last month. Then I had the three years.”
Should Sox fans expect a performance similar to Roger Clemens’ return to the Fens, where he fanned 16 and glared up into Dan Duquette’s box? Pedro said no on both counts. “Don’t expect that from me,” he said with a smile.
Martinez praised Red Sox fans for their dedication and said he’ll accept whatever greeting they give him when he takes the mound tomorrow, opposite Josh Beckett.
“Whatever they do, I believe they’re going to do it from their heart and for one reason,” said Martinez. “If they clap for me I’ll be really happy, but if they don’t, I’ll just have to say they’re doing it to back up their team, which is the Red Sox, not the Mets.”
Pedro stopped into the Red Sox clubhouse before the game to say hello to his former teammates and he said he was touched by the reception he received, especially from David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez and Jason Varitek. He said that’s why he was hoping he wouldn’t have to take the mound in this series.
“It’s hard for me to face them,” he said. “To me they were my true family when I was on the field and I was in the clubhouse. It’s always hard to have a negative [thing] happen to a family member or to make it happen to a family member and to me those guys are family.”
Martinez was asked if he wished that he hadn’t left the Red Sox. He said, “Not really.” But his long, meandering answer said otherwise.
“I said before the World Series was over — every game I had it seemed like my last time in Boston was closer — and I always kept saying, ‘I don’t want to leave Boston, I don’t want to leave Boston.’ Well, for business that was bad words. I think that really affected the way the Red Sox approached me and tried to negotiate with me.
“I guess they took that into consideration: ‘Well, he doesn’t want to leave Boston, so he’s going to take whatever we give him.’ That wasn’t the truth. That was my mistake. I didn’t want to really go out there and wonder about my career and my life and where it was going to end up anymore. For that reason, I was misjudged because I say that.
“The Red Sox would have negotiated with me in a different way if they didn’t know I was so passionate about staying here. I should have said, ‘If you guys don’t treat me well. I’m going to leave.’ They probably would have made the right move and we would have worked it out. But I was too open in saying, and speaking from my heart, ‘I want to stay in Boston,’ and that didn’t work.”