Pedro Martinez touches on helping Drake Britton grow up, reaching out to Curt Schilling and 'amazing' Jon Lester

Mike Petraglia
February 26, 2014 - 11:36 am

FORT MYERS, Fla. When Pedro Martinez holds court, every word is gold. That's the way it was again Wednesday when the former ace pitcher talked about his odds of Cooperstown on the first ballot in 2015, his impact on young pitchers, his future with the team and his attempt to reach out to Curt Schilling after Schilling was diagnosed with cancer. Martinez admitted Wednesday that when he was in his first season as special assistant last spring he thought lefthander Drake Britton had the stuff to make it on the big league roster out of camp. Soon, he and the Red Sox found out that while he may have impressive pitches in his arsenal, he was far from ready with his off-the-field command of his behavior. On March 2, 2013, the 24-year-old lefty was arrested by Lee County police for driving under the influence, property damage and reckless driving. Then Britton struggled badly in the early season. Martinez felt the time was right to actually travel to Portland, Maine (home of the Double-A affiliate) and reach out like a parent and deliver some fatherly advice to a pitcher he thought had great potential but no control. "I was straightforward with him and I told him exactly what I would probably love to hear if I was in the same situation," Martinez said. "I talked about his personal life, how he should treat some of the things that were happening, how much of a battle he wanted to put up after things like that happened. When I saw him struggling in Double A, I chose myself to go and see him and let him know that everything he had before was still there. It was just a matter of putting his mind, his heart, his desire where it had to be. He took it graciously, and thanks to God, he proved to everybody he was able to battle through it." Britton made Martinez proud, going through the legal process in Lee County while improving his effort on the mound. In July, Martinez's spring training vision was fulfilled, as Britton was promoted to the big leagues. He was posted a 3.86 ERA in 18 relief appearances, helping the Red Sox add depth to their bullpen down the stretch. "I'm extremely proud of him, extremely proud to see him overcome all that and actually pay me back," Martinez said. "Pay me back, that'€™s all I wanted. I wanted to see him have success and to see him at the end of the year pitching so well and doing so well for the team, helping the team so much, it really made me like a proud father." Here were some of the other highlights from Pedro on Wednesday:

  • On if he has spoken to Curt Schilling since his former teammate announced he has cancer: "No. I sent a tweet to try to tell him that I'll be praying for him and we're going to keep him in our thoughts and prayers. I don't have his phone number, but I could probably get it from (traveling secretary) Jack (McCormick) later on, reach him out. It's extremely sad, but I know Schill is a big-game pitcher, like I said in my tweet, and I hope that he competes the same way he did in big games."
  • On the World Series title: "I think that would be the highlight of last year. Yes, we won. Yes, Boston Strong after all those things that happened in Boston. It seemed like everything clicked for us. I think the entire city changed last year -- the fans, the city after the Marathon, David's words, all those things kind of came into play. The beards, the chemistry, everything. The group of people that came in, like me, like Wakey (Tim Wakefield), Tek (Jason Varitek), those guys were able to communicate with all the players, come in and out between the players and management and everybody. I think everything worked perfectly. I think that chemistry that was around is long gone. I think you're not going to see it anymore around here for a long time."
  • On passing along his wisdom and desire for the game: "It's just that I feel I have so much to offer, stuff that I'm going to put into use anymore so I might as well pass it along. I'm trying to do that. I'm trying to get involved more in baseball, more with the young players and the veteran players, whoever needs me. I would just love to pass everything I know, all my knowledge, all my experience to some of those guys and hopefully get some good results out every one of them. "You certainly pass don't pass your heart but you pass some of your experiences you had that actually made you go out there with such a confidence and such a desire. Those are the things I'm hoping to pass along to those kids and along with my experience, make them feel more comfortable so they can go out there with no fear."
  • On his impressions of watching Jon Lester and Koji Uehara Wednesday: "What really caught my attention was to see everybody in such great shape. Everybody seemed to be ready. Everybody seems to be so strong. I saw Lester today throwing on the side. My God, he looks great. He looks like he didn't miss a beat. I also saw Uehara throw live BP. He looks like game-ready. It's amazing. I know it hasn't been too long since they were actually pitching. It's amazing to see how they look game-ready already."
  • On whether he intends to serve in the same capacity this year: "I want to be more involved with the players. I would like to do a little bit less of the public appearances that they had me doing last year. Because when you get the results that I got when talking to Britton, (Rubby) De La Rosa, (Brandon) Workman, all those kids, Webby (Allen Webster), you feel like a proud father and you want to be around your sons. I was just going blind, trying to touch in some places, but now I know that my influence can help a lot of those kids. I'd love to do it. I'd love to do it and spend more time with them this year."
  • On his TV plans for this season: "I did. You know what, I have a lot more respect for you guys. I thought TV was just sit down and talk about baseball, especially analyzing. I have to really tip my hat to some of you for the work you do. It's so much searching and little details that you have to look at, game-changing situations. It's a lot more work than I thought, but it'€™s really interesting and I had a great time."