Pedro Martinez on MFB: Red Sox ‘obviously overachieved and we surprised everybody’ last year
|06.26.14 at 1:47 pm ET|
Former Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez joined Middays with MFB Thursday morning to discuss Clay Buchholz‘s return, the pressure placed upon the Red Sox pitching staff this season and the promising pitching prospects in Boston’s farm system. To listen to the interview, go to the Middays with MFB audio on demand page.
The Red Sox have received solid contributions from their pitching staff this season (3.78 team ERA), but the Boston offense has left much to be desired, placing 25th in baseball in runs scored. While the lack of scoring has put a considerable amount of pressure on Boston’s pitchers this season, Martinez said that he enjoyed getting the opportunity to pick up his club during his playing days with the Red Sox.
“That’s exactly your responsibility sometimes — to pick up your teammates,” Martinez said. “I was always looking for those moments where my team was desperate — doing whatever they could to score runs and they couldn’t — I took it personal and I wanted to go out there and post a shutout or limit the other team as much as I could in order to get those guys to bounce back or rest a little bit and in that way, everything will fall into place later.
“This is a reflection of what we went through last year. We obviously overachieved and we surprised everybody. … Now what happens is, the extra push that we had to actually achieve all those things, I think is reflecting on those guys. They’re a little tired. If you play in the big leagues, if you play ball, you can tell that the team is tired. … Some of the pitchers did not have enough time to recoup from the long season last year during the playoffs.”
Buchholz made his first start since May 26 Wednesday against the Mariners and looked far different from the player who posted a 7.02 ERA through his first 10 starts of the season. Buchholz earned the win against Seattle, allowing four earned runs while surrendering zero walks in 7 1/3 innings. Martinez said that Buchholz’s extended time off should be beneficial for the righty.
“Buchholz is the type of pitcher that will throw strikes when his mind is 100 percent there. I think the rest really helped him,” Martinez said. “Having a little time to regroup and actually refresh his mind, I think helped him out. … Even though he was pitching, his velocity was declining. His movement on the fastball was different. Everything was different. So I think this little time off helped him out. I just hope he continues to go the same way he went last night or maybe improve a little bit more as he goes.”
Martinez, who now serves as a special assistant to general manager Ben Cherington, has spent a lot of time working with some of the organization’s younger players. Earlier this year, Martinez worked with Rubby De La Rosa and helped him develop his changeup. Martinez acknowledged that sharing his knowledge of the game with young pitchers has always been something that he’s taken pride in doing.
“I was always helping. … I was always digging for stuff,’ Martinez said. “I was always in the video room looking at swings, comparing all the pitchers to me, looking at great pitchers pitching good games and why did they struggle. I was always digging. … To me, it’s really important that I relay a lot of the knowledge I have. When you play, you’re a little bit busier. Some of those guys don’t like to be told too many things during the game, but some others do. The starting rotation, the four that are not starting that day, are normally watching the game, looking out for their teammates, looking out for their colleague on the mound, looking for little things to make the game easier for their colleague that’s out there.”
Martinez added: “[De La Rosa's] done a hell of a job trying to improve. He gained a lot of weight while he was recuperating from surgery. It was hard for him. He had to drop a little bit of weight and get in better shape, and now it seems like he’s putting it all together.”
Martinez has also worked with the Boston’s Double-A affiliate, the Sea Dogs, and acknowledged that he was very impressed with the pitching staff, especially southpaw Henry Owens, who has compiled a 9-3 record with a 1.99 ERA in Portland this season.
“[Owens] is growing before our eyes, that’s what I see. … I was really impressed with [Brian] Johnson as well. I was really impressed with [Luis] Diaz [and Miguel] Celestino. Everybody is really pushing up to the big team,” Martinez said. “I was really pleased with what I saw. Henry Owens … that big donkey is throwing the ball well, he’s throwing really hard. … Those guys are really, really improved. This organization has done a great job at developing the pitching staff in the minor leagues. … All those guys in the minor leagues, they’re doing great.
“We’re going to have a real good problem next spring training. Come next year in spring training, we’re going to have a seriously good headache in spring training with all of those arms and the improvement that those kids are making.”
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