March 15, 2004

The Right Arm Of God. Is it back? Everyone reports that despite the somewhat ugly stat line -- 2 IP, 3 BB, 54 pitches -- Pedro Martinez said he felt great, perfect, strong, ready to go, etc. There is some skepticism and some fan discussion about Pedro's velocity and radar guns here.) Some quotes from the man: "I felt today by the pop I had on the fastball, it's like something is different. There's some extra strength on my arm. It's only my second outing in Spring Training. I felt like I could throw 98 mph today. It's just perfect, the way it's going right now is perfect. ... Everything was fine except the fastball kept rising. I felt so strong I felt like it was really light by the time I delivered the ball, like, zoom. I don't have anything wrong."

Projo: "I'm real happy with myself. I just need to make some adjustments. Physically, I'm ready to go (start the season) today. I rested a little longer (in the off-season), and that's something I didn't do in the last few years."

Herald: "I guess all of the work from the previous three or four years is finally paying off. My body feels light, I can run for an hour, I can do everything I need to do and I'm still flexible and I'm throwing the ball great."

Herald (pay column): "I threw more fastballs than anything else. ... That's what I wanted to see, the way my body reacted. I felt like I wanted to continue to pitch. No soreness. Nothing. ... It's been a while (since I've felt this good). Probably '97 when I felt this strong and it was this easy to do things." [Martinez was supposed to throw only 45 pitches and wanted to pitch the third, but Dave Wallace said he'd seen enough.]

Jason Varitek: "He's got a glow about him. He’s got a hop in his step." Also: "[I]t wasn't like he was all over the place. He was off by a matter of smidgens."

Jeff Horrigan had the most actual play-by-play: Brian Roberts led off by flying out on Martinez's 8th pitch. Larry Bigbie smacked a single to right field, but was doubled up by Kevin Millar on Miguel Tejada's fly ball to the track. Rafael Palmeiro began the second inning with a hit to right field. Javy Lopez struck out looking, but Pedro then walked three of the next four batters on full counts (David Segui, Mark McLemore, Tim Raines Jr.) to force in a run. He ended his day by getting Roberts to fly out.

Pedro was downright gabby with the press. He spoke about David Ortiz, who homered in his 3rd consecutive game: "David, not being known as well as he is now I think gave him a lot of advantage. This year I'm pretty sure the league is going to be a little bit more careful about how they do things." And: "As far as I saw from the first year, there's no doubt in my mind he can do more. He didn't play for the first month and a half or so. He still put up those numbers, MVP numbers." Ortiz hit 31 HR and drove in 101 runs in only 448 AB.

Nixon and Nomar are both healing. ... Francona: "The one thing I don't want to do is give [Nomar] three days off and then have him come back if he's really, really not ready to go. If we don't play him Tuesday night and the Reds beat us, we're going to live." ... Tony Womack will likely begin the season on the 15-day disabled list. ... Derek Lowe leads the Grapefruit League with a 1.00 ERA (9 innings, 0 walks, 5 K). ... Damon reached base in all four plate appearances (HR, 1B, 2BB) to boost his OBP to .474.

Nice Yankees Headlines: Lieber in pain, Yanks in panic ... Already, They're Feeling The Strain

Check out The Hardball Times. Alex Belth, Joe Dimino, Robert Dudek, Aaron Gleeman, Ben Jacobs and Larry Mahnken are a few of the writers; Jacobs (Red Sox) and Mahnken (Yankees) will be writing "Rivals In Exile."

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