Martinez told Little to get relievers ready

Updated: November 17, 2003, 5:46 PM ET
Associated Press

BOSTON -- Aware that he was tiring, Pedro Martinez told Red Sox manager Grady Little to have relievers warming up late in Game 7 of the AL Championship Series against the New York Yankees.

"I said, 'Get the guys ready in case I get in trouble,' " Martinez said Friday of his conversation in the dugout after the seventh inning.

Little was criticized for sticking with Martinez after they talked on the mound as Hideki Matsui waited to hit in the eighth. The Boston ace thought he could get Matsui out, but his double put runners at second and third.

Jorge Posada followed with a bloop, two-run double that tied the game at 5 and prompted Little to bring in reliever Mike Timlin. The Yankees won 6-5 on Aaron Boone's homer in the 11th.

Boston did not renew Little's contract for next season, although team officials said the decision to keep Martinez in the game was one of several factors.

For the first time Friday, Martinez discussed at length the decision to keep him on the mound.

Martinez is signed through next season, with a salary of $17.5 million, and said during a conference call that he would like to stay with the Red Sox. He said he would wait for the club to contact him about a new contract and expects "tough" negotiations.

"I haven't set any deadlines," Martinez said. "I'm just going to let Boston run the show here. Boston is going to dictate whether I go or I stay."

General manager Theo Epstein, who followed Martinez on the call, said he talked with Martinez on Friday for the third or fourth time since the ALCS and that the pitcher and team officials have a good relationship.

"There's plenty of time for things to work out," Epstein said.

The Red Sox ran out of time in the ALCS after they blew a 5-2 lead in the eighth. Martinez had struggled in the seventh but said he didn't think he would leave after that inning.

"I've done my job. I know I've done enough," he said. "But, at the same time, you have to think about Grady. If he pulls me out and something goes (wrong), what's it going to be for him?"

Martinez said that he hadn't run out of energy.

But earlier Friday, in a news conference in his native Dominican Republic, Martinez said he told coaches at the end of the seventh that he was "worn out" and that Little should start warming up relief pitchers.

"I believe Grady was a great manager, someone we got along with," Martinez said during the news conference. "But there's nothing I can do."

Martinez said after the game that Little wasn't to blame. The pitcher reiterated his position during the conference call.

"It was just a decision whether I wanted to pitch to one more batter, which was Matsui, and I agreed to it. I said, 'Yes, I was able to get him out.' I was going to be able to it. It didn't come out the way I wanted," Martinez said. "It was up to Grady, but he doesn't need to be blamed."

Martinez also said he called left fielder Manny Ramirez, who wasn't claimed after the Red Sox put him on irrevocable waivers Oct. 29, but Ramirez didn't call back.

The Red Sox want to unload the $101.5 million on the remaining five years of Ramirez's contract. Martinez said that might be a sign that his own salary could decrease, "but it's still pretty good money."

He'd still like to be part of the first Red Sox team to win the World Series since 1918.

"I still feel the same passion for Boston and for the fans and New England," Martinez said. "I have as a challenge to win with Boston."


Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press