PAWTUCKET — It’s hard not to read into Pedro Martinez’s presence at McCoy Stadium on the same weekend that pitcher Alfredo Aceves reported for Triple-A duty.
Despite the angina that Aceves has caused through a series of outbursts and bizarre mound antics, there’s at least a part of the Red Sox brain trust that believes Aceves is salvageable. Their challenge is how to unwrap this enigma in order to prevent future episodes.
This is where Martinez, the former Red Sox superstar, now a special assistant to general manager Ben Cherington, could prove to be the coaching staff’s ace in the hole.
Like Aceves, throughout his career, Martinez was often outspoken and unpredictable when expressing himself with cameras and tape recorders rolling. Though by contrast, Martinez never created a hornet’s nest within his own clubhouse with remarks that could alienate teammates.
“You guys (meaning the media) are a powerful thumb. We have to respect you and try to handle you the best way possible,” said Martinez prior to watching Sunday’s Pawtucket-Columbus contest from the comforts of one of the third-base luxury suites. “Whatever we might say, whatever we might do, you guys are always looking for stuff to write, especially when it’s negative. Whether you like it or not, negative sells more than positive and is something that we’re going to be held accountable on and need to be careful.
“I hope that anybody who chooses to speak their mind does it the right way and with respect,” added Martinez about a piece of advice that figures to be relayed to Aceves at some point in the not so distant future.
Martinez spent part of his Sunday morning standing alongside Pawtucket pitching coach Rich Sauveur in the team’s bullpen. After turns by Steven Wright, Graham Godfrey and Rubby De La Rosa, Aceves stepped on the bump. The 31-year-old is scheduled to start here on Thursday night against Durham.
To Martinez, the coming days represent a great chance to get Aceves back on track.
“I’m pretty sure he knows that having a good relationship with your teammates actually makes things easier,” said Martinez, who at age 41, gives off the aura that he could still go out and attack hitters. “Everybody has a time when you snap or say something out of line, stuff like that.”
When a three-time Cy Young winner such as Martinez speaks, it’s best to listen.
“The best thing is that (Aceves) has plenty of time to make it up and copy guys who have been great in the clubhouse,” he stated. “He has a chance to actually talk and learn from some of us who never had any problems with teammates. There are a bunch of good guys who want to help him.
“Sometimes guys are misunderstood and don’t get to express themselves in the way they want to,” continued Martinez. “That’s one of the reasons why I’m here. I’m able to speak the language and understand the culture and what they’re going through. I can relate to everything that they’re going to face on their way up and probably up in the big leagues. I’ll be with them anytime they need me.
“In baseball, overcoming adversity is a reward that you earn. It’s sweet when you look at the results at the end of the day,” said Martinez. “You never rule out anyone in this game and I’m a good example of that. You just never know.”
Switching gears away from Aceves, Martinez was asked for his impressions of promising hard-throwing prospect Allen Webster, who the future Hall of Famer saw in person Saturday night. Webster lasted just four innings in his first start with Pawtucket since making his MLB debut.
“He didn’t have very good very command of his fastball, but you could probably expect that. (Pawtucket) had a rough night, an eight-hour bus ride. You expect him to be a little sluggish,” Martinez offered. “His changeup was great, but he couldn’t spot the fastball really well. I’m pretty sure he’ll be all right the next time out.”
From Martinez’s vantage point, Webster and De La Rosa – another pitcher the Red Sox remain high on – fall in the “worth watching” category.
“Rubby is a special guy just like Webster,” said Martinez. “Those are guys you don’t consider just good. You consider them special and they have the chance to become the next great generation of pitchers in the big leagues.”
It’s clear that Martinez has taken to his mentoring role. After watching Wright, De La Rosa and Aceves throw, he pulled catcher Dan Butler and chatted with him for several minutes. Inside Pawtucket’s clubhouse, Martinez sat down in front of a locker stall, which was an open invitation to any PawSox player who wished to pick his brain.
“I’m enjoying exchanging different views with the players,” Martinez shared. “I learned a lot by watching and interacting with other players and hopefully I can be able to relate some of my experiences and what I did to get better to the guys.”