White Sox rave about Pedro
BOSTON -- Among White Sox pitchers, Jeff Samardzija stands as the best hitter of that group. That level of talent still didn't prepare him for a lone career at-bat against Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez, who had his No. 45 retired by the Red Sox prior to Tuesday night's game.
Samardzija struck out, but should take solace in the fact that he was not alone in those Martinez-based struggles. Adam LaRoche was 4-for-23 in his career against Martinez, while Melky Cabrera was 1-for-5.
Manager Robin Ventura posted a 3-for-21 ledger during his playing career against the Red Sox legend.
"I probably helped him get [to the Hall of Fame], I can tell you that," Ventura said. "He threw hard, good command, change was unbelievable.
"Not a lot of fun going to the plate thinking you were going to do something against him but you knew you had your hands full. It just wasn't fun, going up there trying to sit on something because he could throw anything at any time."
Martinez limited fellow Hall of Famer Frank Thomas to two hits in 24 at-bats, with one homer and 11 strikeouts. Paul Konerko finished 4-for-14, Harold Baines was 2-for-10 and Ozzie Guillen was 3-for-9 when facing Martinez.
LaRoche spoke of a game against Martinez in which he worked into the sixth inning without using a fastball. He didn't know if Martinez was doing it just to see if he could.
"He had two different kinds of changeups he was using and a curveball or slider and after like the second or third inning, we're thinking 'OK, that must be his fastball today. He must be hurting or something,'" LaRoche said. "And then in the sixth he threw one at 90 or 91 or whatever and started using his fastball again.
"Sure enough he was shutting us down with basically a changeup and a real slow changeup. Just a creative mind and knew how to get guys out."
Much like LaRoche, Martinez was considered a consummate teammate. Players raved about being around him, a trait shared by his fellow Sunday Hall of Fame inductees Craig Biggio, Randy Johnson and John Smoltz.
On Tuesday, though, the night belonged to Martinez at Fenway Park.
"He's 'Pedro Grande' and he's one of the best from the Dominican Republic, and to be able to face him was exciting," said Cabrera through interpreter and White Sox Spanish language broadcaster Billy Russo. "He's a great human being.
"When he was on the field, he was outstanding. He was aggressive because that is his nature and because he liked to compete. But off the field he also was a great person. He's humble. In the Dominican Republic, he's an idol, and he was my idol also."