By Dave Sheinin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 29, 2009
NEW YORK -- If Pedro Martínez's start in Game 2 of the World Series on Thursday night is half as good as his performance in the interview room Wednesday, it is going to be one for the ages.
During a nearly 20-minute session that bordered on Shakespearean soliloquy, Martínez spoke extensively about his many memorable experiences at the old Yankee Stadium as a visiting player -- in particular the 2003 brawl that featured him shoving Yankees coach Don Zimmer to the ground -- and pronounced himself "the most influential player that ever stepped" onto its field.
"When you have 60,000 people chanting your name, waiting for you to throw the ball," said the Philadelphia Phillies' veteran right-hander, "you have to consider yourself someone special, someone that really has a purpose out there."
Martínez, 38, is remembered in New York more for his seven dominant seasons with the Boston Red Sox -- when he was the chief foil of the Yankee Stadium crowds -- than for the four mostly disappointing seasons with the New York Mets that followed.
In Game 3 of the 2003 American League Championship Series, during a brawl that Martínez in part instigated, he sideswiped a charging Zimmer, knocking the then-72-year-old coach to the ground. Four days later, in Game 7, then-Red Sox Manager Grady Little famously left him in the game to give up the tying runs in an eventual Red Sox loss.
Asked Wednesday if he regretted the Zimmer incident, Martínez (who has not spoken publicly of the incident in years) said: "Of course I do. It's something ugly. When I saw Zim down on the ground, I thought so much of my dad. I respect elders. I don't condone anything like that. But I've got no choice but to just respond [to Zimmer's apparent attack] and get away."
Martínez is enjoying a late-career renaissance with the Phillies, who signed him in July for just $1 million guaranteed. After going 5-1 with a 3.63 ERA in the regular season, he shut out the Los Angeles Dodgers for seven innings in Game 2 of the NLCS, his only appearance so far this postseason.
"I'm not as powerful as I used to be," Martínez said. "I have a hard time clicking 94 [mph]. But I don't believe I need 94, to be honest. . . . I just know I'm a pitcher, and I'm out there to beat you with whatever I have."Another crazy play
Game 1 would not have been a true World Series game--in this, the Year of the Blown Call--without an umpiring controversy.
With no outs in the bottom of the fifth and New York's Hideki Matsui on first following a single, Robinson Canó hit a weak, broken-bat popup toward shortstop. Philadelphia's Jimmy Rollins made a show of letting the ball drop in, but snatched it in the air--and second base umpire Brian Gorman signaled out. But when Rollins proceeded to step on the second base bag and fire to first, as if it were a live groundball, it fooled everyone, including the umps.
The throw pulled Ryan Howard, the first baseman, off the bag, but at Rollins's prodding, he went and tagged Matsui. The umpires huddled, and this time they got the call right: Rollins had caught Canó's popup in the air, and Matsui was doubled off first base.Tweaking the rosters
Both teams made tweaks to the rosters they used for the LCS. The Yankees added a 12th pitcher, right-hander Brian Bruney, and a pinch-hit specialist in Eric Hinske -- largely in anticipation of Games 3, 4 and 5 under NL rules -- while dropping pinch-run specialist Freddy Guzman and third catcher Francisco Cervelli.
The dropping of Cervelli could be a signal that Manager Joe Girardi will end the pairing of backup catcher Jose Molina with Game 2 starter A.J. Burnett, and instead use starter Jorge Posada to catch Burnett.
Hinske becomes the first player to play in three straight World Series with three different teams since Don Baylor in 1986 (Boston), 1987 (Minnesota) and 1988 (Oakland).
The Phillies, meantime, added right-hander Brett Myers as a 12th pitcher and dropped utility infielder Miguel Cairo.Signing time
Every player on both teams was required to sign 864 baseballs (or 72 boxes of a dozen balls), a task that took about three hours for each player to complete. . . .
Of all active players with at least 30 plate appearances against Phillies Game 2 starter Pedro Martinez, Yankees utilityman Jerry Hairston ranks second with a .370 batting average.