Mets' Martinez proud of domination during PED era

Updated: February 15, 2008, 9:47 PM ET
Associated Press

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Pedro Martinez knows his place in the Steroids Era.

"I dominated that era and I did it clean," he said. "I can stand by my numbers and I can be proud of them."

No longer the No. 1 pitcher on his staff, Martinez reported to spring training Thursday with the New York Mets and soon was asked about baseball's doping scandal.

The three-time Cy Young Award winner said he hasn't paid much attention to the fallout from the Mitchell report, and he didn't watch Roger Clemens testify before Congress on Wednesday. But Martinez said he'll probably get caught up on his computer now that he's in camp.

Martinez did have some pointed words, however, for the reporter who once called him a prima donna.

"I have a small frame and when I hurt all I could do was take a couple of Aleve or Advil, a cup of coffee and a little mango and an egg -- and let it go!" he said.

Martinez's point: He wasn't going to try human growth hormone or any other performance-enhancing substance. In fact, he would welcome a more stringent drug-testing program in baseball.

"I wish that they would check every day. That's how bad I want the game to be clean," said Martinez, who had his best years with Montreal and Boston from 1997-2003. "I would rather go home [than] taint the game."

He's not ready to go home just yet.

Wearing sunglasses and all-black workout gear on a sparkling afternoon, the right-hander played long toss and chatted with manager Willie Randolph before plopping down on a picnic table to meet the media.

Back in the clubhouse, there was a Valentine's Day bounty waiting at Martinez's locker, complete with balloons, a teddy bear and two bouquets of flowers.

Entering the final season of a $53 million, four-year contract, the 36-year-old Martinez said he'd like to keep pitching for the Mets beyond 2008.

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"It's going to be all dictated by my health," he said. "If I'm healthy, I still have a couple years left. ... If I don't finish as a Met, I think it's going to be a long haul to find another team or whatever."

Martinez said he feels better than he has in almost a decade -- before his right shoulder gave him any problems at all. But he's not sure he'll be able to make 30-plus starts this season.

"Nobody's guaranteed to do that," he said.

Maybe a new partner will help.

The Mets recently acquired two-time Cy Young winner Johan Santana from Minnesota, a move that should take pressure off Martinez, who missed most of last season following shoulder surgery.

"Ahh, I can breathe," Martinez said. "I'm extremely happy to have Johan here. It's like a big glass of cold water when you're thirsty.

"I can't wait to give him a big hug and tell him, 'Hey, we're together.' One from the left side, one from the right side."

Still, Martinez isn't planning to play second fiddle to anyone.

"I know Johan is an ace. And when I get the ball, I'm an ace," he said. "When I get the ball as a starter, I'm the guy styling."

Martinez's rigorous rehabilitation took a toll on him last year. He returned to the mound late in the season, going 3-1 with a 2.57 ERA and 32 strikeouts in five starts.

"When I came back I was still beat up from all the work. I was still stiff," Martinez said. "I was healthy, but I was mentally and physically fatigued."

And he was embarrassed by the team's historic collapse. The Mets squandered a seven-game NL East lead with 17 to play and missed the playoffs, coughing up the division title to Philadelphia on the final day of the season.

"I'm not used to it. I was born a winner. I don't want to go down like that," Martinez said.

He doesn't think the team choked or got scared.

"You could call it lack of concentration, fatigue," Martinez said. "We failed because we got tired and at the end of the year we didn't know how to mentally prepare for those 20 games."

He said the Mets need to pay back their fans for that flop, and he's glad they added a workhorse like Santana to help. But Martinez wouldn't make any predictions, unlike Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins last offseason. Rollins boasted that Philadelphia was the team to beat in the NL East, then backed it up by winning the NL MVP award.

"We have to make Jimmy swallow his tongue," Martinez said with a smile.

Notes
Santana threw off a mound at the Mets' complex. The first official workout for pitchers and catchers is scheduled for Saturday. ... OF Ben Johnson agreed to a minor league contract with the Mets and was invited to spring training.


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press