By Jeff Louderback
During a stretch from 1997 to 2003, Pedro Martinez was the most dominant starting pitcher in Major League Baseball. The numbers he posted in that period are stunning, especially since they were posted in the height of the steroid era. Now 41, Martinez has returned to the Red Sox as a special assistant to general manager Ben Cherington. His two primary projects are 25-year-old left-hander Felix Doubront and 23-year-old right-hander Rubby De La Rosa – two pitchers who have high ceilings.
Martinez told WEEI.com that he would like to be known as a beloved ambassador to the Red Sox, just like the late Johnny Pesky. He would serve as a positive influence to young players, just like Pesky was for decades.
Known for his dedicated work ethic and his preference for owning the plate and not hesitating to drill hitters who crowded his space, Martinez can only help Doubront and De La Rosa. Martinez told reporters that 90 percent of his hit batsmen were intentional, and usually in retaliation for a teammate getting beaned.
Though Doubront has the potential to emerge as one of the better left-handers in baseball, his offseason conditioning has been lackluster. For the second time in three years, he arrived to camp out of shape. The Red Sox believe Doubront will be ready by opening day, and hopefully guidance from Martinez will help the Venezuelan southpaw recognize the importance to remain diligent and focused on conditioning year-round.
De La Rosa, who was acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers last summer in the blockbuster deal, has frontline starter potential and a fast ball that reaches 100. he spent last year rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, which he underwent in 2011. De La Rosa’s workload will be monitored in 2013, but he will likely make some starts for the Red Sox at some point this season.