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Pedro Martinez among headliners on HOF ballot announced Monday 11.24.14 at 12:36 pm ET
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Pedro Martinez is one of the leading candidates on the Hall of Fame ballot that was announced Monday. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Pedro Martinez is one of the leading candidates on the Hall of Fame ballot that was announced Monday. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

The Hall of Fame ballot announced Monday includes a trio of standout pitchers, including Red Sox legend Pedro Martinez, who should take headlines back from the stars who were tainted by Major League Baseball‘s steroid era.

Joining Martinez as first-time candidates are five-time Cy Young Award winner Randy Johnson, who amassed 4,875 career strikeouts (second only to Nolan Ryan), and Braves legend John Smoltz, who is the only pitcher to record 200 wins and 150 saves.

Martinez, who won two Cy Youngs, compiled a 219-100 career record with 3,154 strikeouts.

Former Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra also makes his first appearance on the ballot.

Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa — all linked to the use of performance-enhancing drugs — are back. Clemens and Bonds both received 35 percent of the votes last year, well below the number needed for admission. McGwire dipped to 11 percent, and he only has two more years of candidacy. Sosa fell to 7 percent last year, and if he dips below 5 percent he’ll be removed from future ballots.

Results will be announced Jan. 6. The induction ceremony is scheduled for July 26.

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Red Sox Hall of Fame inductees Pedro Martinez, Roger Clemens and Nomar Garciaparra talk Jon Lester, Cooperstown and more at Fenway Park 08.14.14 at 2:13 pm ET
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Pedro Martinez crashes Roger Clemens interview Thursday at Fenway Park. (Conor Ryan/WEEI.com)

Pedro Martinez crashes Roger Clemens interview Thursday at Fenway Park. (Conor Ryan/WEEI.com)

It was a blast from the past Thursday morning at Fenway Park, as three new members of the Red Sox Hall of Fame — Pedro Martinez, Roger Clemens and Nomar Garciaparra — discussed a variety of topics with the media in the EMC Club.

While the hour-long press event mostly revolved around prior experiences and memories, Martinez took the time to discuss the present, focusing  mostly on the departure of Red Sox ace Jon Lester, who was traded to the Athletics at the July 31 trade deadline.

“€œI hope he comes back, because he’€™s a perfect guy to actually have in the clubhouse, influence kids and I think [Lester] is a guy that I’€™m against seeing him leave,”€ Martinez said. “Openly, I’€™m going to say that I’€™m not happy that Lester is not here anymore. I would like him to come back and we had that talk in the outfield and during bullpen sessions, during games. I hate to see that Lester is gone because he’€™s a workhorse, he’€™s a good example in the clubhouse, he’€™s a role model in society … He’€™s everything you need for a young group of guys that are developing.”

Clemens, as he did earlier during his interview with Middays with MFB, remained mostly mum on his opinions regarding whether or not he will eventually get enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, but added that his preference, if he does get elected, would be for his plaque to feature him donning a Red Sox cap.

“€œI don’€™t think you have any control over that, I made light of it and said I was going to wear a [University of Texas] Longhorn visor,” Clemens joked, adding: “€œI don’€™t think you have any control over that. … Obviously, [the preference] would be Boston, because I spent most of my time here.”

Martinez also commented on the debate regarding Clemens’€™ chances of one day getting the call to Cooperstown, stating that  players such as Clemens and Barry Bonds should be voted into the Hall due to the fact that they compiled enough accolades before PED accusations began to sprout up.

“I think Roger, with all due respect to everybody that votes, I’€™ll have to say Roger and Barry Bonds are two guys that I think had enough numbers before anything came out to actually earn a spot in the Hall of Fame,” Martinez said. “I’€™m not quite sure, 100 percent, how close they will be before all the things came out, but in my heart, if you ask me before any of that, I would say yes -€“ 100 percent -€“ without looking back. … I believe they have a legit chance and I think, with time, the voters will take into consideration what they did previously.”

Following are more highlights from the media session:

Clemens on whether he identifies himself as a Red Sox above all of the other teams he played for: “Sure. I spent 13 years here and I worked hard. Like I said, this is where I got my start, I got my nickname here and the kids today still call me ‘€˜Rocket’€™ more than they do ‘€˜Roger,’€™ so it’€™s pretty cool. At home, I probably have more Red Sox stuff that I do any other club that I played for.”

Garciaparra on the 2004 season: “€œObviously, it was devastating being traded, no question about that. But I was happy for them winning the World Series. For me, that my teammates made feel like a part of it, which was great. I was grateful. When they were going through the playoffs, I was getting calls from them when they were on the bus, like, ‘€˜Hey, did you see that? Did you see what we’€™re doing?’€™ … They were saying, ‘€˜We’€™re thinking about you,’€™ and I was like, ‘€˜I’€™m watching.’€™

“I never watched the World Series when I played. I didn’€™t want to watch where people were that I wanted to be. I’€™ve only really watched two World Series when I played. One was the Yankees and Mets when they were in the World Series, only because Jay Payton was my roommate in college and one of my dearest friends was playing in the World Series. … And then in ‘€™04, because I knew they were going to do it. … I realize here that the World Series is bigger than you. It’€™s about these people and these fans and the tradition here and what it meant. I’€™m glad, in ‘€™04, that it was finally accomplished, because these great fans deserved it.”

Martinez on the atmosphere at Fenway Park: “I’€™ll tell you what, the aspects of Fenway Park and the tradition, the uniqueness that we have here in Fenway, I can’€™t see it happening in any other place. … You can feel the heat from the bodies from the field. It’€™s so close. … This is the closest to a winter league game that you can probably feel. I always describe Fenway as the only place where you can feel like you’€™re pitching winter ball, because it’€™s loud, you have people right on top of you. … It’€™s a unique feeling that you get at Fenway.”

Garciaparra on Martinez’€™s tenure in Boston: “œWatching him, there were times where I found myself like the fans, in awe of what he’€™s doing. So much so that when they finally hit the ball off him, I would be like the fans and go, ‘€˜Ugh.’€™ I would do so the same thing and then I’€™d realize, ‘€˜Oh, they hit it at me and I need to got to go make the play.’€™ … There were so many moments that made you feel that way and I’€™m grateful that I’€™m his teammate and friend.”

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Pedro Martinez on MFB: ‘Red Sox are under no pressure’ because of last year’s title 08.04.14 at 12:07 pm ET
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Red Sox legend Pedro Martinez checked in with Middays with MFB on Monday from the Red Sox Foundation charity golf tournament in Belmont. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

Martinez, whose departure after the 2004 season has been compared to Jon Lester‘s situation, weighed in on the Red Sox’ trade of Lester to the Athletics.

“I wasn’t really surprised,” Martinez said. “After seeing that nothing worked out in spring training, and a little bit of disappointment on both sides, specially on Lester’s side, I could sense that something was going to happen. But at the same time, I was extremely sad and worried about him leaving because, to be honest, I don’t think he’s replaceable right now by any means.”

The Red Sox have made it clear they would prefer to avoid handing out long-term contracts to players in their 30s, but Martinez said the team will miss Lester’s leadership.

“Well, the first thing that we all have to realize is that the Red Sox are under no pressure. We won last year when nobody expected that we were going to win. Whatever we decided to do this year, we have plenty of time to put together a plan to build another team that can be in the winning column within the next three years. They have the luxury to do that because winning last year unexpectedly I think gave everybody space to breathe,” Martinez said.

“Now, I think for the good of the young arms that we have in the minor leagues, I think they needed someone to guide them. I didn’t see it so well that Lester would leave, because that’s a great guy to have in the clubhouse, a role model, worker. When you go into the clubhouse and you see Lester, the ace of the team, working, you have no choice but to go to work. When you see his mental approach about the game, the respect for the game and his respect for his teammates, I think it’s someone so valuable in so many different ways, it doesn’t have to really be performing. But it’s the influence that he brings over to the young arms that are coming up and probably hoping to develop into an ace later on.”

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Pedro Martinez on MFB: Red Sox ‘obviously overachieved and we surprised everybody’ last year 06.26.14 at 1:47 pm ET
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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.

“€œBuchholz 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.”

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Pedro Martinez on D&H: 2004 Red Sox were ‘like a good date’ 05.30.14 at 1:27 pm ET
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Former Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez joined Dale & Holley on Wednesday afternoon to reflect on his major league career. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

Martinez returned to Boston along with a group of other former Sox players Wednesday night to honor the 10-year anniversary of the team’s 2004 World Series championship.

“The fun in that group has never gone away,” Martinez said. “Every time we have an opportunity to actually interact with each, it seems like we went right back to what we’€™re used to doing.”

One thing that team was known for was its unique personalities throughout the roster, something Martinez said worked because the team “kept it loose” in the clubhouse.

“When you want to meet a good woman, you date her for a long time and you spent a lot of time together,” he said. “That’€™s what we did. We were like a good date. We were always out, always the same group of guys. Not too many coaches, except one or two who wanted to join, but we were always out, always together in everything we did. If we had to fight, we were all together and we knew what we were doing as a pack, as I’€™d describe as a wolf pack, or a group of lions working together.

“The personality thing? We just found the greatest group of guys to have fun and be loose and be loud and be careless of what you thought. That’€™s the approach we took, and I think that’€™s why the personalities never clashed, because we were all after having fun, being crazy, being loose and not worry about what you were thinking, about what the media was saying.”

Each start was valuable to Martinez. Every time he took the mound, he pitched with extreme intensity because he felt like he had a chip on his shoulder.

“I was denied so many chances, it made me angry,” he said. “But at the same time, I held so much inside, so much anger for being denied, being second-guessed so many times that I actually developed a habit of being like that whenever I had to pitch because I was told I was never going to do it. I was told that I wasn’t good enough to do it and I wanted to prove everybody wrong.

“That little bit of anger that I had all the time became a habit for me, and for some reason as soon as the game was approaching I had that demeanor. I think it worked pretty good to keep me focused. I think not messing around, not looking at anybody as a friend because I was called head-hunter, I was called all kinds of things coming up, I was always misjudged.”

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Manny being … reformed? Manny Ramirez looks back, forward with new outlook 05.29.14 at 12:09 am ET
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The 2004 World Series champions banner draped over the Green Monster slowly opened and revealed the door into the 37-foot tall outfield wall. As Joe Castiglione announced his name over the Fenway public address system, a joyous Manny Ramirez, sporting a mohawk inspired by his son’s haircut, emerged from the wall as he waved to the crowd at Fenway Park.

The scene before Wednesday’s game mirrored the image of Ramirez emerging from the Monster door in 2005 right before the game resumed after a pitching change. Ramirez says, however, that the man that emerged to the cheering adoration of the Red Sox fans in the pregame ceremony Wednesday is a completely different man from one who was known for his antics — and challenges — during his tenure in Boston.

“I behaved bad with the organization, with my teammates, but now I realize that and I’ve got move on,” Ramirez reflected. “I cannot be looking in the past. The Bible says that when you come to Christ, you are a new man. He takes your sins and he throws it in the sea and that he is going to clean you, like it’s snow. I don’t worry about what happened in the past.”

Ramirez said that he’s been attending church for nearly four years with his whole family. During that time, Ramirez says he realized how poorly his behavior with the team reflected upon him. Ramirez said the watershed moment came when he was arrested in 2011 on battery charges following an incident with his wife.

The moment changed Ramirez’s outlook on life.

“They didn’t let me see my kids for maybe two or three months, and one day I wake up and I look myself in the mirror and I said I needed a change,” Ramirez said. “I started going to Bible studies and saw that it was good. I kept going and God helped me to change my life.”

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Pedro Martinez: Red Sox have ‘amazing’ pitching talent in farm system 02.26.14 at 5:49 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — The 2013 season was a revelation for Pedro Martinez.

It wasn’t just that a Red Sox organization that had hit its low point in 2012 rebounded to claim a title, though Martinez — who arrived in Fort Myers and was in uniform during and after Wednesday’s workout — said he took considerable pleasure in that turnaround. Still, in his fourth season away from the game, the retired three-time Cy Young winner — named a special assistant to Red Sox GM Ben Cherington at the start of 2013 — discovered how much he enjoyed the opportunity to offer counsel to pitchers.

That was particularly true of the minor leaguers with whom Martinez worked. In his stops at various minor league affiliates, he found a wealth of talented players who were and are eager to learn. Martinez loved offering the players feedback and to influence their development positively, and he hopes to spend more time with Sox prospects this coming year.

“I want to be more involved with the players,” said Martinez. “Because when you get the results that I got when talking to [Drake] Britton, [Rubby] De La Rosa, [Brandon] Workman, all those kids, [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.

“I think I have so much to offer, stuff that I’€™m not going to put into use anymore,” he added. “I might as well pass it along. I’€™m trying to do that. I’€™m trying to get involved more in baseball and 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 of my experience to some of those guys and hopefully get some good results out of every one of them.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Pedro Martinez touches on helping Drake Britton grow up, reaching out to Curt Schilling and ‘amazing’ Jon Lester at 4:36 pm ET
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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.”

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Mike Petraglia, Alex Speier on Pedro Martinez Hall of Fame debate and what Red Sox look to accomplish with games at 4:08 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Alex Speier discuss what the Red Sox will be looking to accomplish and who has something to prove once spring training games begin Thursday against Northeastern and Boston College. They also talk about Pedro Martinez‘s arrival Wednesday in camp and his Hall of Fame worthiness.

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Pedro Martinez on his chances for Cooperstown in 2015: ‘I should have a shot’ at 1:58 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Maybe Pedro Martinez is just playing it close to the vest but asked Wednesday if he thinks he will earn a place in Cooperstown in his first year of eligibility in 2015, the former Red Sox ace said he can only hope and wait.

“I’m looking forward to that,” Martinez said. “There’s only so much I can do. As of now, I’m just like you, hoping and waiting to get another chance to make it in back-to-back years, Boston and then the Hall of Fame.

“I think I should have a shot but like I said it’s not up to me and I can only hope and wait.”

Martinez arrived in camp Wednesday after spending time at the Red Sox academy in the Dominican Republic, and immediately began to help pitchers on the back field, watching bullpen sides and offering insight.

Earlier this month, Martinez was announced as one of four inductees into the Red Sox Hall, joining former teammate Nomar Garciaparra, ace Roger Clemens and broadcaster Joe Castiglione.

“To me, it’s a great honor to actually go into the Red Sox hall of fame,” Martinez said. “I don’t enough words to thank the organization. I’m extremely proud to have been chosen to go into the hall of fame, really happy. I think this once again makes me more of a Bostonian than ever. I keep saying I’m a Bostonian and now, I can’t go away anymore.

“It’s a great honor to go in with two of the guys that symbolize the Red Sox and have done so much for the game and for whole Boston area and the Red Sox. I’m extremely honored to share that moment with them and just happy to be right with them.”

Martinez presents a strong case for Cooperstown as he was a two-time Cy Young Award winner and four-time All-Star in his seven seasons with the Red Sox from 1998-2004. He won Game 3 of the 2004 World Series as the Red Sox brought home a title to Boston for the first time since 1918.

Martinez is the club’s all-time leader with a .760 (117-37) career winning percentage and 72 10-strikeout games. He was named MVP of the 1999 All-Star Game at Fenway Park when he struck out five of the six batters he faced as the American League starter. That same year, Martinez led the AL with 313 strikeouts and 19 10-strikeout games.

Martinez spoke for over 18 minutes Wednesday outside JetBlue Park as reporters wanted his ever-articulate opinion on his role as special assistant in the organization, working with major and minor league pitchers.

“You guys still think I’m a ballplayer,” Martinez quipped as the press conference began.

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