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
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."