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October 28, 2009

Pedro Martinez


Q. Talk just a little bit about your anticipation coming back to New York playing in the World Series. How is that transition happening for you since your experience at the New York Mets and now you're back in New York at the World Series?
PEDRO MARTINEZ: Well, it's always exciting to actually get back and be able to play in the World Series. This was something I had in my mind, I had in the back of my mind while I was playing for the Mets. But we can't really choose our destiny. Only God knows why I didn't make it with the Mets, but yes, in a short period of time, I got the opportunity with the Phillies.
I'm very thankful, very glad I'm able to participate in this. It's always special. I'm just trying to get on with this and have as much fun as I can.

Q. I imagine the weather at Dodger Stadium helped, but how did you stay so sharp in that game given it was 17 days before that when you had been in a game?
PEDRO MARTINEZ: Well, as you know, I'm older and wiser. I believe my experience played a big role in that. You know, I realize that the game remains the same. The game doesn't change. You have to execute. You have to sacrifice your body. It's not like I felt comfortable at any time in the game, but I was trying to just keep my concentration and execute the things that I have to execute in certain moments and try not to think about the layoff that I had.
I really just wanted to go out there and do as much as I possibly could without getting hurt and stepping out of the game in good shape.

Q. You've had a unique relationship with the fans in the Bronx over the years. Why do you think that is? Have you thought about that over your career? And what about it do you enjoy?
PEDRO MARTINEZ: I don't know if you realize this, but because of you guys in some ways, I might be at times the most influential player that ever stepped in Yankee Stadium. I can honestly say that. I mean, I have been a big fan of baseball for a long time, since I was a kid. My first ball I ever got from a Big League player I actually got to purchase in Dodger Stadium in a silent auction, was Reggie Jackson. I was actually a big fan of the Yankees, too.
For some reason with all the hype and different players that have passed by, maybe because I played for the Red Sox is probably why you guys made it such a big deal every time I came in, but you know, I have a good bond with the people. After playing in New York, I went to realize something: New York fans are very passionate and very aggressive. But after it all, after you take your uniform off and you deal with the people, they're real human beings. It's all just being fans.
I have all the respect in the world for the way they enjoy being fans. Sometimes they might be giving you the middle finger, just like they will be cursing you and telling you what color underwear you're wearing. All those things you can hear when you're a fan. But at the end of the day, they're just great fans that want to see the team win. I don't have any problem with that.

Q. When you think back about your years with the Mets, do you think of that as basically a positive experience or a negative experience? And the other part of the question is what's your opinion of why things never seemed to work out there, even though the team looked so good on paper, and I mean for the past couple years?
PEDRO MARTINEZ: Well, there was one year where we looked pretty good. We were a win away from the World Series. But the other years injuries just came along and harmed some of the key pieces that we had in the Mets. You know, as much as people say, oh, they collapsed at the end of the season, you have to give the other teams credit for playing the way they did.
This team, the Phillies, now that I'm playing with them for a little while, I actually got to realize that this is a very competitive team. And so were the Marlins when they actually disqualified us in those games. They played the best baseball they could probably have played at that moment, and a lot of people didn't really stop to look at that. But those teams are dangerous, and they can play the game as well as any other team when they really focus and they play mistake-less kind of game.

Q. Do you feel like the Mets overlooked the Phillies a little bit that year? Were you guys underestimating them?
PEDRO MARTINEZ: No, we were trying to win, believe me. We were trying to win, we just couldn't win. We just couldn't beat the other teams. A lot of the things that happened I guess happened for a reason. Not like we played the best baseball, but they did, and that's who ends up on the top. But you can't really stop to think about what happened; it's all over now.

Q. Two things: One, when you say you're one of the most influential players to come in here, do you mean as a visiting player or --
PEDRO MARTINEZ: I think in every aspect, the way you guys have used me and abused me since I've been coming to Dodger Stadium (sic), just because I wore actually a red uniform just like this one while playing for Boston, it's been like -- I remember quotes in the paper, "Here comes the man that New York loves to hate." Man? None of you have probably ever eaten steak with me or rice and beans with me to understand what the man is about. You might say the player, the competitor, but the man? You guys have abused my name. You guys have said so many things, have written so many things.
There was one time I remember when I was a free agent, there was talk that I might meet with Steinbrenner. One of your colleagues had me in the papers with horns and a tail, red horns and a tail. That's a sign of the devil. I'm a Christian man. I don't like those things. I take those things very serious.
Those are the kind of things that the fans actually get used to seeing, and actually sometimes influence those people to believe that you are a bad person, that you are like an ogre. I see Mariano, and that's probably the player I admire the most because of how he goes about his business, how he does it, and he remains a humble Christian man admired by everyone in baseball.
The way people perceive me in New York, I don't know if they got to know me a little bit better after I got to the Mets. It's totally different than the way I am; I just compete. And yes, I will do whatever it takes to beat you. But I'm a human being after I take my clothes off. A lot of people can witness that any time, anywhere, any moment.

Q. The other thing is going back to 2004, Game 7, the old Yankee Stadium, what do you remember when you came into that game from the bullpen? What do you remember about that scene?
PEDRO MARTINEZ: I remember being calm, really calm, ready for anything. Actually I had a little bit of anger inside of me, not towards the Yankees or towards whoever, towards the tweaking that the whole scenario took. Actually, and I'm sorry I'm going to recall this because it was an ugly scene -- this is probably the first time I'm ever going to talk about it publicly. But when Zim came over to me, I thought he was going to just give me advice or something, just "Go, Pedro, you need to slow down or something," or try to make it look a little bit different.
But at that time, I'm going to be honest right now, my shoulder was barking. I was pitching on three days' rest, I think. It was two men on. I loaded the bases with a hit by pitch that wasn't a hit by pitch. The ball hit the bat on Karim Garcia, and Zim charged me, and I think he's going to say something, but his reaction was totally the opposite, was trying to punch my mouth and told me a couple of bad words about my mom.
I just had to react and defend myself kind of. But the tweak that it took made me look like a monster that just came in to play Yankee Stadium. And you know what I did, go out there, compete, and nothing else. I remember getting back to my dugout and seeing middle fingers. My mom, poor mom. I'm glad she's blessed by God because all those curses were, I mean, unbelievable.
I remember going back, and I blew up the lead, yes, I blew up the lead, but I don't regret it. It was a great moment. It was a great game. I competed. I did everything I had to do to actually win a ballgame. Fell short. So what? I'm not the last one. It's not going to be the last one. It's not going to be the first time ever. That's why you go out there, to try to survive a game, win it or lose it. I had the great honor to pitch one of the biggest games that a player has ever played in the whole stadium. And that's a good memory for me to have.
But I didn't like the tweaking that you guys gave to the whole scenario, because I don't feel like it was my fault. And at that time when I threw that pitch, I was just trying to jam Karim Garcia. But when you're struggling, no, you don't know how it feels. Shoulder barking, it's a hard thing to deal with.

Q. This may be a little redundant having just listened to that: When you signed in Philadelphia there was a considerable amount of New York media that came for your press conference. You brought up "Who's your daddy?" It almost became from that point on almost leading to this. I wonder if you think that yourself and how much of what you just said from that day on will you carry to the mound with you tomorrow?
PEDRO MARTINEZ: You know, any time I hear that, "Who's your daddy?" it really reminds me that God is my daddy. It gives me strength. It keeps me strong and healthy, and I believe I can do anything. And when you have -- I said it before, when you have 60,000 people chanting your name, waiting for you to throw the ball, you have to consider yourself someone special, someone that really has a purpose out there.
Maybe when I said that quote out of frustration, I had the purpose of maybe hearing it now, hearing it the following few years that I played, because every time I hear it, it reminds me not to make the same mistake. And at the same time it reminds me that God is my real daddy, and he's the one that keeps me strong to compete, just like he does to Mariano. I've seen Mariano when I know his shoulder is barking, and he still succeeds. Men of faith. It's only God who can probably do that for him.

Q. You mentioned a couple weeks ago when you pitched at Dodger Stadium that you're older and wiser and that's what helped you get through that. That being said, do you feel like you're a different pitcher now than the last time you faced the Yankees? And if so, how are you different?
PEDRO MARTINEZ: Well, I'm not as powerful as I used to be. I have a hard time clicking 94. But I don't believe I need 94, to be honest. I believe that if I can just confuse them enough to get a fastball by them or a breaking ball or whatever, and it's spotted in the right position, because it's all about location, honestly. If you don't locate well, you don't have a purpose with it, and some of those hitters might adjust to some of the pitches, but when? When? And that's the biggest key, when you're able to do it.
I think I'm a combination. On some pitches I can be a power pitcher because I can click a fastball sometimes. And some of the times I'm just a finesse pitcher that knows what to do out there, an experienced pitcher. Could be a sinker ball, like a junk thrower, whatever you want to call me. I just know I'm a pitcher and I'm out there, and I'm out there to beat you with whatever I have.

Q. Just to go back to that day at Fenway, just to clarify, do you regret what happened that day with Zimmer?
PEDRO MARTINEZ: Of course I do. It's something ugly. I thought when I saw Zim down on the ground, I thought so much of my dad. I respect older people, I respect elders; I don't condone anything like that. But I've got no choice. I've got no choice but to just respond and get away. I've never had any incidents, and I'm going to knock on wood because it's been like that my whole life. I never had any incidents in the streets, not here, not in the Dominican.
When I was a kid, yes, I got a lot of punching. When I was a kid, yes. (Laughter).
But after I've been a grown-up and knowing better, I never got in trouble in the States, in the Dominican, anywhere, except on the baseball field, and on the baseball field those things happen. That's part of baseball, actually.
But with a coach, uh-uh, never. Teammate, no, never had any problem. I hope it never happens again. But it was something that we have to let go kind of, and forget about it, because it was a disgrace for baseball. Even though it wasn't my fault, I was involved in it, and it's one of the moments that I don't like to see. I don't like to see it because I'm not a violent man.

Q. Just to follow up on that situation with Zim, the first part of my question, did you ever reach out to Zim to apologize or reconcile and have closure on that situation? My second question is this: Coming into Yankee Stadium what is your mindset because right now you're coming into the World Series. What is the difference coming in as a Red Sox pitcher and as a Phillie pitcher playing against the Yankees given the rivalry that you had with the Red Sox while you were a Boston pitcher?
PEDRO MARTINEZ: Well, the same situation. This is the last time I'm going to talk about this, and please understand that and respect that, and I know you all do, and you guys do a great job about that. But the Zim situation, we are both, I consider, mature people, Zim more than I am, wiser than I am, and he acknowledged that it wasn't my fault; that it was his fault.
I never wanted to apologize to you guys because why should I apologize to you guys or come to a press conference and say, I apologize for something I didn't intend to do. It's a normal human reaction to defend yourself when you feel threatened, and that's what happened to me at that point. I had to defend myself, and I know how. Don't let this small body fool you; I know how. I just don't put it into play.
I mean, that Zim situation is over with. I didn't feel like I had to apologize at that time, give an apology because I didn't feel like I did anything to apologize. But it's something I'm not happy about, it's something I don't condone, and it's something that I don't want to see in baseball.
As far as the other question, coming in against the Yankees, this is the first time I'm going to play a World Series. I think my World Series was in 2004 and 2003 and the previous years when we played them in the playoffs and we couldn't beat them. But in 2004 after we beat them, I didn't feel like the other team stood a chance against us with all the respect they had, and they still carried from me. I don't think that St. Louis had any chance. After we beat the Yankees here, after being 0-3, St. Louis didn't have a chance to my understanding, and that's the way we proved it to be.
Coming against the Yankees in a World Series, Phillies uniform, it's just a special day. It's a special occasion for me.

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