Pedro Martinez figures Mariano Rivera is "capable of pulling off maybe three more years" on major-league pitching mounds, but he also knows where Rivera is coming from in being ready to get on with the rest of his life.
"Listening to him speak, I can really connect with the way he's thinking," the former Met and three-time Cy Young winner said Monday, shortly after he was named TBS' newest studio analyst for the upcoming playoffs.
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"He hasn't been there with the family and he wants to be. There is a point where you have to say, 'Family first.' "
Martinez said he has watched with interest as his fellow future Hall of Famer navigated his way toward retirement this season, including Sunday's pregame honors at Yankee Stadium.
"I'm extremely proud of him," Martinez said. "Anything we do to honor Mariano will fall short given the kind of reliever he was and the kind of player he was and how neat of a player and person and human being he is."
Martinez, 41, is two years younger than Rivera but has not pitched since he appeared in the 2009 World Series for the Phillies against the Yankees.
These days he mostly splits his time between the Dominican Republic and the Miami area, but he worked this season as a special assistant to Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington.
Martinez said that job would not prevent him from pointing out Red Sox mistakes. "If someone doesn't execute on the field, of course I will be able to pick that up," he said. "But no more than that. I will just keep it baseball related."
He also said he must be careful not to reveal any team secrets on national television.
"I know what the rules are and what goes on and I'll be strictly professional about what I say about players," he said. "I'm not going to give little tips to other teams."
Martinez said he hopes to work with the Red Sox again next year and beyond, but he also is eager to explore the television business. He never before has worked as an analyst. "Be patient," he said, laughing. "Be patient."
After watching many of his contemporaries take the media plunge, Martinez went to an audition and found the experience "really interesting and fun."
In part he credited his new partner, Keith Olbermann. Asked whether he knew much about Olbermann before the audition, Martinez said, "Who wouldn't know about him? . . . He's a celebrity. I think he's great. He makes it easy."
Martinez last pitched for the Mets five years ago Wednesday, striking out nine and getting a no-decision in a victory over the Cubs during the last season at Shea Stadium and the last meaningful early autumn for the team.
What does he think of the Mets' direction now? "It's good, if they manage to keep [Matt] Harvey healthy," he said. "Hopefully they're making the right decision as far as not taking him to the [elbow] surgery. I hope they do the rehab they need to do and Harvey can come back and they can build the team around him.
"I think they're getting a lot of talent from the young kids and the more you see the more appreciate what they have in a lot of kids."
Martinez said he watches baseball religiously. "I don't like going to the movies too much," he said. "What I do is baseball 24/7 most of the time."
It would appear based on his famous outspokenness as a player that Martinez is a TV natural.
"You know why? Because I honestly will give you a straight answer," he said. "I don't think I've ever lied, so why hide? I answered with a straight, honest answer and that was it.
"Don't make it too complicated. That's why on TV, I'm talking to the people honestly. I'm not going to go uncover anything or try to be anything else. I'm just me. That's how I am and that's how you're going to hear it."