Pedro thoroughly enjoying second career with Sox
Entering second year as special assistant to GM, Martinez excited to be at camp
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Pedro Martinez surveyed the notebooks, tape recorders and cameras early Wednesday afternoon and wondered if it was suddenly 1999 again.
"When is this going to end?" mused Martinez. "You guys still think I'm a ballplayer."
Instead, Martinez represents a pitching legend, one entering the second season of his second career as a special assistant to general manager Ben Cherington.
This was Martinez's first day in camp, and there was great interest in hearing what he had to say.
Recently, it was announced that Martinez will be inducted into the Red Sox Hall of Fame later this year. In 2015, there could be an even bigger honor, when the three-time Cy Young Award winner becomes eligible for that big Hall of Fame, the one that resides in Cooperstown.
"To me, it's a great honor to actually go into the Red Sox Hall of Fame," said Martinez. "I don't have enough words to thank the organization, and I'm extremely proud to have been chosen to go into the Hall of Fame, really happy. I think this once again makes me more of a Bostonian than ever. I keep saying I'm a Bostonian. Now, I can't go away."
Nor would any Bostonian -- or baseball fan -- want him to.
The ultimate achievement for Martinez's career -- one that many have compared to that of Sandy Koufax -- would be enshrinement to Cooperstown.
"I'm looking forward to that," Martinez said. "There's only so much I can do. As of now, I'm just like you, hoping and waiting to get another chance to actually make it back-to-back years. Boston -- then the Hall of Fame."
Does Martinez think he'll be a first-ballot Hall of Famer?
"I think I should have a shot, but it's not up to me," he said. "Like I said, it's not up to me. I can only hope and wait."
Considering the money he made and the accomplishments that decorated his career, it would be easy for Martinez to just sit back on his boat in the Dominican Republic or look at the beach near his home in Miami.
But his job with the Red Sox, though not as glamorous as the one he had as a player, is one Martinez has really taken to.
"It's just that I think I have so much to offer, stuff that I'm not going to put into use anymore," Martinez said. "I might as well pass it along. I'm trying to do that. I'm trying to get involved more in baseball and more with the young players and the veteran players. Whoever needs me. I would just love to pass everything I know -- all my knowledge, all of my experience -- to some of those guys, and hopefully get some good results out of every one of them."
Martinez had the thrill of seeing results from some of his labor last year.
In the early part of 2013, Martinez heard that lefty Drake Britton had been struggling a bit. So he volunteered to take a trip to Double-A Portland to spend time with him. By later in the summer, Britton was getting big outs at Fenway Park during a pennant race.
"For him to come to town like that, it's special. He flew into Portland and I got to sit down with him for about an hour. It was amazing," said Britton.
What type of wisdom did Martinez impart on Britton, who was charged with DUI last spring?
"Just the attitude and mentality that I need to have," Britton said. "Being selfless, not selfish. Just basically getting my priorities straight. He's been a very good mentor. Just to have a guy like that come to town and just reassure me and tell me that I have it and it's there and it's just about doing these other minor little things to piece it all together was pretty cool. That's Pedro Martinez. It's awesome to hear that."
For Martinez, it was complete gratification, and it reassured him that his second baseball career is worthwhile.
"Well, the first thing was I was honest to him. I will always be," Martinez said. "I was straightforward with him and I told him exactly what I would probably love to hear if I was in the same situation. I talk about his stuff, trusting his stuff, about his personal life, how he should treat some of the things that were happening. How much of a battle he wanted to put up after things like that happened.
"I'm extremely proud of him, extremely proud to see him overcome all that and actually pay me back. That's all I wanted -- I wanted to see him have success. And to see him at the end of the year pitching so well and doing so well for the team, helping the team so much, it really made me like a proud father."
Shortly after arriving on Wednesday, Martinez put on his familiar Red Sox uniform and went right to work, monitoring several pitchers.
"You know what really caught my attention? To see everybody in such great shape," Martinez said. "Everybody seems to be ready. Everybody seems to be so strong. I saw Jon Lester today throwing on the side. My God, he looks great. He looks like he didn't miss a beat. I also saw Koji Uehara throw live BP. He looks like game-ready. It's amazing. It hasn't been too long since they were actually pitching. It's amazing to see how they look game-ready already."
The only change Martinez would like to see in his role this season is to spend some more time on the field.
"I want to be more involved with the players," Martinez said. "I would like to do a little bit less of the public appearances that they had me doing last year. Because when you get the results that I got when talking to Britton, Rubby De La Rosa, Brandon Workman -- all those kids -- Webby, you feel like a proud father and you want to be around your sons. I was just going blind, trying to touch in some places, but now I know that my influence can help a lot of those kids. I'd love to do it. I'd love to do it and spend more time with them this year."
Of course, Martinez's job with the Red Sox isn't his only profession. He broke into the media during the postseason last year, serving as an engaging studio host for TBS.
Martinez will work for TBS again in 2014.
"You know what? I have a lot more respect for you guys," Martinez said. "I thought TV was just, 'Sit down and talk about baseball.' Especially analyzing. I have to really tip my hat to some of you for the work you do. It's so much searching and little details that you have to look at, game-changing situations.
"It's a lot more work than I thought, but it's really interesting and I had a great time, especially working with the guys I was working with. It was great. They were true professionals, guys that were really on top of the game. And not only that, they were trying to teach me every day how to become more comfortable. Yes, I have one more year with TBS, and who knows along the way? But I'll remain in baseball. I don't want to go away from baseball."