Francona gives Martinez the week off

Updated: July 10, 2004, 11:42 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

While most major league players will soon be taking a three-day respite, and a relative few will remain on the job Monday and Tuesday for the Mid-Season Classic, Pedro Martinez has already left for a week's vacation, with permission.

Martinez, who piqued the Boston media and fans last year with a similar extended All-Star break, pitched Wednesday and threw in the bullpen early Friday, then left for his home in the Dominican Republic. He's due back to start the Red Sox' second game following the All-Star break, Friday in Anaheim, Calif.

The volatile right-hander was invited to join the American League All-Star team after teammate Curt Schilling declined to play because of an ankle injury. Martinez declined the offer, The Associated Press reported Saturday, and the Indians starter Jake Westbrook will take Schilling's place instead.

The Boston Globe reports that manager Terry Francona, like his predecessor, Grady Little, allowed Martinez to go home while his teammates continued to work. Last year, it was the last game before the break; this year it's the final three.

Francona did take a day to decide, however.

Martinez asked Francona earlier in the week and the manager took a night "to think about it because I just wasn't sure how I felt about it."

After thinking about it, and talking to some of the key players as well as general manager Theo Epstein, Francona decided he felt OK about it.

Of his dealing with Martinez over the issue, Francona said that Martinez "was very professional -- he actually said that if I decided for him not to go that he wouldn't go and it wouldn't be an issue."

Martinez will get a chance to spend time with his young son who underwent surgery in February, and to visit his parents, his siblings and extended family. It's his first visit home since the deaths of two uncles.

Pedro's departure was a non-issue with Kevin Millar.

"Starting pitchers, once they pitch," Millar said, "you're better off sending them home anyway because they're the non-athletes on the team."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.