Pedro predicts Price will thrive with Red Sox
Former Boston great says lefty ace can still improve
PUNTA CANA, Dominican Republic -- Eighteen years ago, Pedro Martinez was the prized new pitching acquisition in Boston. After coming over in a trade from the Expos, Martinez signed a six-year, $75 million extension (plus a $17 million club option) that was record-setting for a pitcher at the time.
In other words, Martinez knows exactly the type of excitement David Price is feeling right now, and also the type of scrutiny he will face.
And this is why Red Sox fans should take heart in just how convinced Martinez is that Price will embrace and thrive in Boston in much the same way he did.
"He's smart enough to know that the media is always going to be asking questions, especially with the contract," said Martinez from David Ortiz's Celebrity Golf Classic in the Dominican. "I think he's really emotional when it comes to the game, and he's very passionate, just like the Boston fans."
Martinez sees a little bit of himself in Price -- both in terms of competitive fire and the ability to have a laugh.
"He's a lot of fun, too," Martinez said. "So the Boston fans are going to really embrace him. Not only that, but he's such a great guy in the community and so easy to handle. He's nice to everybody. I think he's going to get what Boston can give you -- Pedro-like treatment. And I think he will perform as well."
Of course, that's the bottom line. Price needs to perform. And the Red Sox have no doubt he will, as evidenced by his seven-year, $217 million contract.
As circumstances would have it, when Price made his second professional start in 2008 for Tampa Bay's Vero Beach affiliate in Class A, his opponent was none other than a guy named Pedro Martinez. At the time, Martinez was rehabbing from an injury for the Mets' Class A Port St. Lucie squad.
"I was doing rehab with the Mets when he came over from Vanderbilt, and he made his [second] start against me and he did really well that day, too," Martinez said.
A few months later, Martinez wasn't surprised when Price dominated the Red Sox in relief in Game 7 of the 2008 American League Championship Series.
"I was like, 'Wow, this kid is really something.' And I predicted it before that," Martinez said. "I was like, 'Wow, this kid is going to do the job.' I knew the kid had it because he was attacking, he was the same way, he was aggressive through the strike zone. It was just a matter of him getting his body built up to becoming who David Price is.
"I saw the same look, the same approach, from the first day, to the last time I've seen him pitch. Except this time, he's doing it with experience and he's going to get even better."
Better? Yes, Martinez is putting it out there now that he thinks Price is going to reach an even higher level than he is already. In his role as special assistant with the Red Sox, Martinez looks forward to talking shop with Price and perhaps even monitoring some of his side sessions in Spring Training.
"This is one of the guys that you can say at 30 years old, he still has space to grow," Martinez said. "I'm extremely excited to have him because I know when we all get together and we start talking pitching, he's got another little ceiling to go to. I'm extremely excited to actually plan together what he's going to do and what I'm going to do and what we're going to do as an organization. I hope he feels comfortable, honestly, because I like him a lot."
Like a lot of Red Sox fans, the signing of Price has made Martinez extremely eager for the 2016 season to start.
"I know he's an awesome person. He's a great guy, a great clubhouse person to have," Martinez said. "And also, his stuff, I like his stuff. I was praying that the Red Sox would go and get someone to help [Rick] Porcello and those guys kind of relax a little bit, and David is that kind of guy."