BOSTON - Pedro Martinez last pitched in the major leagues for the Phillies against the Yankees in the 2009 World Series. Before that, he spent four seasons with the Mets.
Rather than just fade away and "sit under a mango tree,'' as he once famously said he used to do, the 41-year-old is a regular at Fenway Park, showing up about every two weeks to make appearances.
Martinez, who looks a little pudgier than in his playing days, was in the home clubhouse Saturday before the Red Sox (with whom he had his greatest success) squared off with the Yankees (his longtime nemesis).
Martinez, who will be eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2015, said he still hasn't signed his retirement papers. He contemplated a comeback in 2011 but now is content to be a beloved former player -- especially in Boston, where he is treated like baseball royalty and shared a big bear hug Saturday with David Ortiz.
Always a keen observer of the New York baseball scene, Martinez gave his thoughts on a number of topics in a one-on-one talk with Newsday. Among the subjects he covered were Matt Harvey's ascent, Mariano Rivera's farewell tour, the injuries suffered by Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez, steroids in baseball and Robinson Cano's contract.
"He's special. Not just good, but special. A lot of kids are really good, and you expect them to be good, you expect them to develop. That kid's special. When you see him, even physically, you just look at Tom Seaver. I'm not putting any pressure on him to try to be like him. You're just seeing a baby coming up. But definitely you can't help but to get the flashback.
"And he seems like he's going to be a guy who's going to be durable. That's really important for someone to judge: Is he going to be durable? Now, how [the Mets] handle him, that's a different story. What you see now, it might tear apart in two years if they don't handle him the right way. They have to take into consideration the fact that he's pitching good. It doesn't mean they can get careless.''
"Anything we do for Mo, it's going to feel small compared to what he is. Anything to try to thank him for his loyalty to the game, his approach to the game, how professional he is, it's going to fall short. I wish Mo could get a statue in every stadium. That's how big I think he is. How good of a person he is.''
On Jeter and A-Rod injuries
"We all go through that. It's hard to see someone slowing down as you still continue to see them. It's a process that everybody has to respect. It's just like dying. You know you're going to die sooner or later.
"You live your life the best way possible, but imagine how many great players in baseball history have passed by, and baseball just keeps going. It's the same for A-Rod, Jeter, Hall of Famers, whatever. They all have to see the end to their career. I'm not saying they're done -- believe me, especially Jeter and A-Rod being healthy, they can play -- but it's just that everything has an end.
"I just hope that Jete don't go too far, doesn't get too hurt or kind of look bad in any sense. I hope he goes on a high note, like he should, like Mo. I wish him the best.''
On steroids in baseball
"I'm surprised that people are still messing around knowing that the [testing] now . . . there's no way you can escape it. I'm extremely shocked that someone would be gutsy enough to mess around with that. The way the game's being cleaned up, I wouldn't mess around if I was anybody. I never did. I don't think it's coming back, but there are a few guys who still think they're above the law. I hope that everyone that gets caught gets suspended.''
On Cano's contract
"I think he's the perfect guy to build around. If you don't have Cano, what are you going to do? Who are you going to bring up? How are you going to get people in the stadium? Cano is the main reason that the few fans that they're getting over there are there. So I hope they keep him. Because if not . . . it's all done.''