BoSox have exclusive rights until Nov. 11
BOSTON -- Red Sox star Pedro Martinez filed for free agency Tuesday, a week after his Game 3 victory helped Boston win its first World Series title since 1918.
Martinez just completed a $90 million, seven-year contract. The Red Sox have exclusive negotiating rights with him until Nov. 11, the day before other teams can discuss money with the three-time Cy Young Award winner.
"If they don't get me, it's probably because they didn't try hard enough," Martinez said after what might have been his final start in a Red Sox uniform. "My heart is with Boston."
"I hope I get another chance to come back with this team, but if I don't, I understand the business part of it," Martinez said. "I just hope that many other people understand that I wasn't the one that wanted to leave. I'm only doing what I have to do."
If he does leave, he would do so as one of the best pitchers in Red Sox history -- and one of its most colorful.
After beating the Yankees early in the 2002 season, he said, "Wake up the damn Bambino. Maybe I'll drill him." But this year the losses to New York piled up and he seemed more resigned.
"What can I say -- just tip my hat and call the Yankees my daddy," Martinez said after a Sept. 24 loss. "I can't find a way to beat them at this point. ... I wish they would disappear and not come back."
Martinez won four ERA titles from 1999-03 before shoulder problems turned him into a seven-inning pitcher most of the time. Even then he could be unhittable at times -- he allowed just three hits in seven scoreless innings and retired his final 14 batters in a 4-1 victory over St. Louis that set up Boston's Series sweep.
"It's been a great ride," Martinez said after his World Series debut. "I hope everybody enjoyed it as much as I did. Even with the struggles that I've had up and down during the season, I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed every moment."
Red Sox officials could not immediately be reached for comment.
Martinez went 16-9 with a career-high 3.90 ERA this season. The 33-year-old right-hander is 182-76 with a 2.71 ERA in his 13-year career. He also pitched for Los Angeles and Montreal.
Also filing for free agency Tuesday was outfielder Ellis Burks, who has said he will retire. The 40-year-old veteran of 18 major league seasons began and ended his career with the Red Sox.
Burks spent nearly five months on the disabled list this season after two operations on his left knee. When he returned at Fenway Park on Sept. 23, he singled as a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the ninth and was removed for a pinch-runner to a standing ovation.
His only appearance after that was an Oct. 2 start when he became the 200th major leaguer to play in 2,000 games.
He re-signed with the Red Sox last offseason but had just 30 at-bats in nine games before going on the disabled list April 26.
"You can't play forever. As much as I'd like to, you tend to realize there's times when you have to let it go and leave it up to some of the younger guys," he said as the season neared an end. "But I'm here. I'm having fun with it."
Even though he wasn't playing, Burks remained with the team throughout the playoff run -- all the way to the victory parade. He said he would like to take some time off and then try to get a job in a front office.
New York Yankees right-hander Orlando Hernandez, Tampa Bay first baseman Tino Martinez and San Diego left-hander David Wells also were among the 11 players who filed Tuesday, raising the total to 181 among the 215 players potentially eligible. Players may file through Nov. 11.
Baltimore left-hander Buddy Groom filed provisionally, pending a decision by the Orioles on whether to exercise a $3 million option or pay a $250,000 buyout. A day after Seattle declined a $6 million team option, Mariners left-hander Eddie Guardado exercised a $4 million player option.
Anaheim said it will not attempt to re-sign Troy Percival and will move setup man Francisco Rodriguez into the closer's role. Rodriguez probably will not be eligible for salary arbitration until after the 2005 season.
"Troy's performance with the Angels has solidified his standing as one of the elite closers in baseball," Angels general manager Bill Stoneman said. "Under the mentoring of Troy, we now believe Francisco is ready to assume the role of closer for our ballclub."
Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press
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