KANSAS CITY -- A's rookie starter Jharel Cotton has a big fan in Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez, who just so happens to be Cotton's idol.Martinez, who won three Cy Young Awards during an 18-year big league career, took to Twitter on Tuesday morning to bring attention to the similarities
KANSAS CITY -- A's rookie starter Jharel Cotton has a big fan in Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez, who just so happens to be Cotton's idol.
Martinez, who won three Cy Young Awards during an 18-year big league career, took to Twitter on Tuesday morning to bring attention to the similarities between himself and Cotton, one day after Cotton stifled the Royals with seven scoreless innings, allowing just two hits and fanning six.
"Jharel Cotton reminds me a lot of myself," Martinez tweeted. "Nasty change up, nice cutter, same arm angle and rotation, and same grip I used to have."
The Internet saw the tweet before Cotton, who woke up in Kansas City to a stream of phone notifications, ranging from text messages to Facebook alerts.
"Then, I saw it," Cotton said Wednesday, "and I was like, 'Wow.' I was in shock. It's crazy, because when I was younger, that's all I watched, was him pitch. I just watched him and would try to pitch like him. So it's pretty cool to see him make those comparisons. It was awesome."
The comparisons between the two don't stop there. Cotton, like Martinez, stands 5-foot-11. Both are island babies -- Cotton coming from the U.S. Virgin Islands and Martinez from the Dominican Republic -- as well as both getting signed by the Dodgers, then later traded. The right-handers also both own No. 45, though Cotton insists that's a coincidence.
"That's just what they gave me last year," Cotton said, smiling. "I just stuck with it because I did well in my debut. It's kind of wild."
Baseball reaches only a select audience in the Virgin Islands, but Cotton was hooked after discovering the sport on television, thanks in large part to Martinez.
"When I first started watching baseball, he was the first pitcher I saw pitch," Cotton said.
Cotton was not yet a teenager when Terrence Chinnery taught him his devastating changeup. Right away, Cotton said, "I tried to make mine as good as Pedro's." Cotton even mimicked Martinez in video games, choosing to be him every time.
"Him, and Barry Bonds," Cotton said.
"[Martinez's] aggression always stood out to me," Cotton said. "He looked fierce on the mound. He wasn't your ideal height for a pitcher, and neither was I. But he was just going after guys like it was nothing, and he had a great time doing it. He had fun pitching. The short guys, we can throw it, too."
Martinez appeared on MLB Network on Tuesday night to continue the discussion, demonstrating Cotton's changeup grip. Side-by-side video demonstrated just how astonishingly similar their deliveries are.
"It's interesting," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "Who am I to argue that? You look at the pitch complement, a lot of similarities there. It's one heck of a compliment. I was joking about it with him today as well, and he said, 'Hey, it's real flattering.' You don't want to try to have to live up to those expectations, but now that you think about it, there are a lot of similarities."
• An MRI on A's prospect Matt Chapman's left wrist revealed no structural damage, the team announced, adding that the third baseman's swelling has subsided and his range of motion has improved.
Chapman, the club's No. 4 prospect per MLBPipeline.com, is expected to begin a swing progression shortly, but there's no timetable for his return to Triple-A Nashville.
• Right-hander Chris Bassitt (Tommy John surgery) is set to throw one inning in a simulated game in extended spring training in Arizona on Friday.
Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010.