Pedro exits in quite the hurry

Martinez left Game 6 after four innings and the clubhouse afterward nearly as fast

Originally Published: November 4, 2009
By Amy K. Nelson | ESPN.com

NEW YORK -- After sitting through manager Charlie Manuel's postgame meeting with the team, Pedro Martinez got up and promptly walked out of the Phillies' clubhouse. Soon thereafter a bizarre scene broke out, and if this is how Martinez exits baseball, it will be an unfortunate ending for one of the best pitchers to play the game.

After leaving the clubhouse before it opened to reporters, Martinez was chased down by the media near a bank of elevators at Yankee Stadium. He answered questions for less than two minutes, while a random Yankees fan -- who somehow escaped security's notice -- yelled at him over reporters' questions.

How sad it was to see Martinez leaving out the back door, just a day after he happily hosted a room full of reporters in preparation for his Game 6 start in the World Series. After giving up four runs and three hits -- including one mammoth, two-run homer to World Series MVP Hideki Matsui -- Martinez left the dugout after his four innings in an eventual 7-3 loss to the Yankees.

His longtime archrival clinched its 27th World Series title with his loss.

While Martinez didn't answer any questions in English about whether this is his final season, he did in Spanish. Recently, Martinez has spoken about how he promised his mother, Leopoldina, that he would retire if the Phillies won the World Series. He was asked whether he will come back next year and pitch.

"We'll see; I have to speak to my mother," Martinez said in Spanish. "But as of right now, I'd say yes. Thank goodness I feel good."

Martinez, 37, was showered and dressed when his teammates entered the clubhouse after losing to the Yankees. He remained for Manuel's address to the team, and then, according to one player, left without saying goodbye to anyone.

It was an abrupt ending for a star whose run with the Phillies superseded expectations. He went 5-1 with a 3.63 ERA in nine starts with Philadelphia late this season, and while he lost his two starts in the World Series, overall this postseason he pitched admirably, with a 3.71 ERA and 16 strikeouts in 17 innings.

Not bad for a self-proclaimed "old goat."

"I think he was just upset," Phillies reliever Scott Eyre said. "I think he's a prideful person, and I'm sure he wasn't happy about it. I admire him for the pitcher he is and his tenacity on the mound. It was a pleasure to play with him."

[+] EnlargePedro Martinez
Brad Mangin/Getty ImagesPedro Martinez was tagged with the loss in Game 6 after allowing four runs in just four innings of work.

Martinez, who signed with the Phillies in mid-July after waiting for the right offer, pitched proudly in Game 2, though he did end up taking the loss. But on Wednesday night his stuff was no match against the Yankees, who started seven left-handed batters against Martinez.

Martinez's first pitch was a 78 mph changeup to Derek Jeter. While Martinez had a clean first inning and threw only 13 pitches, he topped out at just 84 mph. The Yankees hitters must have been practically drooling in the dugout.

"I just didn't think he was as fresh and as sharp," pitching coach Rich Dubee said. "You know, [he's] 37 years old, cold weather, his stuff wasn't just as crisp. You never doubt the heart or the effort, that's for damn sure."

With Martinez's velocity down, the Yankees pounced. He started the second inning by walking Alex Rodriguez, then gave up the homer to Matsui -- Martinez's personal postseason nemesis -- to left field on the eighth pitch of the at-bat. While Matsui is only 4-for-28 with a homer and RBI against Martinez in the regular season, he morphs into his moniker, Godzilla, when facing Martinez in the postseason (9-for-19 with two homers and six RBIs).

"It's over with; he got me," Martinez said of Matsui, "and that's it."

With the loss, Martinez became the fifth former Cy Young award winner to lose a World Series clinching game. He joins John Smoltz, Greg Maddux, Don Drysdale and Whitey Ford.

Martinez, who said he was sick and had trouble breathing Wednesday, is the only pitcher on this list to win his Cy Young award with a different team than the one for which he lost the World Series finale.

Perhaps that is why he left so soon. Perhaps it is not. He didn't have much to say to reporters either way.

"I didn't get the performance I wanted and we ended up losing the game," he said. "But I'm extremely proud and I enjoyed it and I don't regret anything."

Dubee said he thought Martinez could pitch next year.

"Healthwise? Pedro can pitch," Dubee said. "Armwise? Pedro can pitch. Savvywise? Pedro can pitch."

When the clubhouse opened, Martinez's locker was nearly empty. A copy of Wednesday's New York Post -- with an image of his head imposed atop a chubby baby's body with the headline "Spank Him, Yanks" -- rested on the top shelf of his locker. A bouquet of orange roses, sunflowers and lilies with two balloons that read "Thank You" sat on the floor in front.

Martinez didn't need to be thanked; he didn't need a reminder of how he left the new Yankee Stadium as the losing pitcher. As he walked toward the elevators, a group of about 15 journalists and cameramen crowded around the future Hall of Famer.

The inappropriate and obnoxious fan yelled "Who's your Daddy" while Martinez answered a few questions. As the fan told him he's a class act and a Hall of Famer, Martinez finally was asked in Spanish how he would sum up his year.

"If I asked for anymore," he said, "then I'd be selfish."

Amy K. Nelson is a staff writer for ESPN.com. You can reach her at amy.k.nelson@espn3.com.