March 26, 2004

More on Pedro's Fastball. It was an issue after his last start and it is story #1 today.

Some fans and media have hinted that Pedro Martinez has claimed his mid-90s velocity is back in order to improve his chances at getting a lucrative contract from the Red Sox. But since we know the Red Sox watch him like a hawk and could easily tell if he was bluffing, that seems silly. ... Yesterday, after throwing 70 pitches over five innings against the Twins, Pedro seemed to back away from his earlier comments. "If you look at the last few years, why would I worry about velocity? ... If you're referring to '97, '96, or '95, you'd find me at 97-98 miles per hour on every pitch. I'm not. I got hurt. I'm older. I've got a lot of innings in this shoulder. I actually pitched the last three years around 91, 92. And then when I have to click, I click."

However, the AP reported that Pedro is throwing hard. "Pedro Martinez says he hasn't lost his fastball - and the radar gun shows he's right. ... Martinez's heater topped out at 93 mph against the Twins, and he threw three consecutive 91 mph fastballs to former Red Sox infielder Jose Offerman to end a Minnesota threat in the fourth inning." Pedro: "I haven't lost my fastball. Ninety, 91, now that's a good fastball. And if anyone wants to test it, go ahead. Let the scouts stand there with a bat and I'll give them a 91."

But radar guns are fickle and far from precise. A gun-toting scout sitting behind the plate said Martinez topped out at 91 mph. "He had a couple 90s and a 91. The rest were 86, 87, some 88s. He had his pretty good changeup and curveball. But hell, they're going to get to you if you don't have that little extra. He just wasn't the Pedro we all know. I've seen him four times. This is the best he's thrown. He didn't have 90 before. Maybe he's pacing himself. He looks fine. He just doesn't have the velocity. Maybe he will."

Another scout, who had not seen Martinez pitch this spring, said "it seemed like he was throwing from a different angle, from a lower arm slot than a year ago, getting underneath the ball instead of on top of it - there was no zip on his fastball." This scout said Pedro topped out at 90 only once.

A report from Bosox-L: "The announcers said he wasn't looking particularly sharp today. Although it should be noted that he hadn't fallen behind in the count until the 1st batter in the 4th inning. He was using a lot of off-speed pitches with runners on base. He wasn't hit hard, although he didn't collect a K until the 5th. The 4 hits were all either blown by the wind over the outfielders' heads or blooped. His only K, Luis Rivas, struck out swinging (a fastball up & in), the same batter he fell behind in the count to ... the announcers noted that this was the first time he came after a batter."

Martinez: "If I ever feel I can't compete, or I can't put up the numbers I've been putting up or somewhere near, I'll just pack my cleats and go home ... [W]hy would I worry about velocity? Why would I worry about anything at all? I'm still No. 1 on top of a lot of good guys that we have on this team. They have me as the ace."

Martinez: "I think experience is going to dictate what I have to do. ... Earlier (in my career), I was just a thrower. I was a young buck and I'd come in and just let it go: Here, this is what I have. But nowadays I know what to do and what to work on."

Theo Epstein: "Velocity is not important this time of year. And velocity is one of the most overated aspects of pitching. (Martinez) is very comfortable with where he is. He knows himself well."

Ramiro Mendoza threw a scoreless inning in his spring debut. Although his first pitch hit Torii Hunter, Mendoza retired the next three batters on two groundouts and a strikeout. ... Today, Bronson Arroyo starts against the Pirates in Bradenton and tomorrow Curt Schilling faces the Phillies. ... Horror writers Stephen King and Stewart O'Nan are collaborating on a book about the 2004 Red Sox. "Diaries in hand, they are to attend Red Sox games, taking notes to be compiled and published by Scribner when the season is history."

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