May 2, 2004

Red Sox Respond To Pedro. Theo Epstein's comments:

"The goal of the Boston Red Sox is to build a team every year that can compete for, and win, a World Series. These are our core values: team over individual, a World Series over everything else. Although building a winning team is our primary focus, we have the utmost respect and admiration for our individual players and the sacrifices and contributions they make to help the organization achieve its goals.

"We respect our players. We tell our players the truth. We listen to our players. We protect our players. We negotiate with our players in good faith, and we make every effort not to discuss these negotiations in public. We want our players to succeed, and we do everything we can to help them win. Sometimes, however, our commitment to building winning teams, every year, means that we will have disagreements with our players about the length and precise value of their next contracts. These disagreements are unfortunate but they are inevitable. They will be resolved in time. In the meantime, we continue to focus on our most important mission: winning."

Tony Massarotti says Martinez is simply engaging in "campaign rhetoric". ... Damon, Ortiz and Varitek offer comments. ... Two stories about Pedro possibly returning to the Dodgers.

Friday's game was postponed after a 3:32 delay due to "90-mph winds, hail the size of golf balls, rain, thunder and lightning." Which meant Saturday eveing featured a good old-fashioned 2-for-the-price-of-1 doubleheader. ... I followed the first game via MLB at work, hustled home, walked the dogs and settled in for the nightcap. And stayed up to 12:30 am watching an ugly Pedro start and a comeback that started much too late.

Martinez lasted only 4 innings, giving up 9 hits and 6 runs. Pedro threw 8 pitches to the leadoff batter (Michael Young) and then Blalock homered. He threw 33 pitches in the 3rd inning (4 runs, 5 hits) and 26 more in the 4th (2 doubles, 1 run). Nothing worked well -- no snap to his breaking balls, hanging curves, missing spots with the changeup. He walked only one batter (Deullucci in the 4th), but had very little control of anything.

His velocity was a bit higher than it has been in previous starts (he hit 92 several times), but I think that was overthrowing or simply because he couldn't spot his other pitches. Martinez did the same thing in Game 7 last october. Running on the fumes of fumes, he had to rely on his fastball, which he could get up to 95, was comng in flat. (That's why the suggestion that Pedro was still able to pitch in the 8th because he was throwing 95 is horseshit.) ... And while Martinez refused to use it as an excuse, because of some confusion surrounding when the second game would begin, Pedro was forced to cut short his pregame routine.

Other stuff: Alan Embree has added a curveball this year. "I've probably thrown more breaking balls so far this year than I did all of last year." Embree has not allowed a run in 11 of his 12 appearances this year; he has a 1.74 ERA while holding opposing hitters to a .160 average (8-for-50). Embree said he decided to make the curve a priority after allowing a game-tying single in Game 1 of the ALDS. ... A Dominican newspaper said David Ortiz and the Red Sox were close to a deal, but Ortizzle says the two sides haven't spoken since spring training. ... The Cleveland Plain Dealer has a long feature on Manny.

Marlins starter Darren Oliver recently allowed five home runs in a 13-10 loss to Colorado -- including three in a span of five pitches. Jeromy Burnitz began the Rockies 4th inning by homering to center on the first pitch. Charles Johnson looked at a ball, then homered to left. And Matt Holliday took a strike before homering to left.

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