'We would be able to work things out'

Updated: November 12, 2004, 8:50 AM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Forget the past. Yankees catcher Jorge Posada would be happy to see Pedro Martinez in pinstripes.

Pedro Martinez

Jorge Posada

"I don't have anything against Pedro if he's my teammate. The guy is a winner. He knows how to pitch," Posada said Thursday night at a charity event for manager Joe Torre's Safe at Home Foundation.

"I would not have a problem with him. We're gentlemen and would be able to work things out. The same thing happened with Roger [Clemens]."

Perhaps it was Posada's pitch to owner George Steinbrenner that he find a way to sign Martinez, who filed for free agency after helping the Red Sox win the World Series last month.

Such amiable sentiment means a lot, especially considering the source and the recent history of the rivalry. Posada, a leader in the New York clubhouse, had a memorable run-in with Martinez during Game 3 of the 2003 AL Championship Series.

The Yankees were upset with Martinez when he threw a pitch behind Karim Garcia's head at Fenway Park. Posada was one of the most vocal and visibly angry players, coming out of the dugout to shout at Martinez, who yelled right back and pointed to his own head.

Afterward, the right-hander denied that the gesture meant he might throw at Posada's head.

When a brawl broke out later in the game, Martinez tossed then-Yankees bench coach Don Zimmer to the ground.

But Posada would be willing to put all that behind him, he said. And maybe the 33-year-old Martinez would be happy to pitch for the Yankees instead of against them. After all, his struggles against New York prompted him to call the Yankees his "daddy" late last season.

Martinez, a three-time Cy Young Award winner, went 16-9 with a 3.90 ERA in 2004. He faltered against the Yankees in the ALCS but won his only World Series start, throwing seven shutout innings against the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 3.

In need of pitching, the Yankees are looking to acquire at least one top starter this offseason, perhaps Arizona ace Randy Johnson, but they are short on high-level prospects to offer in exchange. That's one reason Posada's name has been mentioned in trade speculation.

"I can't control that," he said. "I don't want to be gone. I don't want to be somewhere else. I consider myself a Yankee."

Another player who might be attractive to other teams is 28-year-old pitcher Javier Vazquez, who got off to a good start in his first season with the Yankees but struggled mightily in August and September.

"This is a learning experience for Javy," Posada said. "His best years are ahead of him. I would hate to see him go."

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press