Deivi Garcia could be part of the next chapter of the New York Yankees' fierce rivalry with the Boston Red Sox.
But Garcia won't let history alter his admiration for a Red Sox legend.
The 21-year-old right-hander has shined through three starts with the Yankees since making his major league debut on Aug. 30. He's also worn a belt with No. 45 on it in each of those starts, leading some to wonder whether it was borrowed from ace Gerrit Cole.
After pitching seven strong innings against the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday night, however, Garcia confirmed the belt is his -- and that No. 45 is a tribute to Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez.
"I asked for a belt with the No. 45 and that’s in honor of Pedro Martinez," Garcia told reporters, via NJ.com. “It’s just a number that I carry around. I have it in my glove. ... That’s really the reason why."
Garcia hails from Martinez's native Dominican Republic and was born in 1999, the same year Martinez won the American League Cy Young award and famously dazzled in the All-Star Game at Fenway Park.
Despite the generational gap, Garcia views Martinez as an inspiration -- and Pedro is reciprocating the love. After Garcia's successful big-league debut on Aug. 30 -- one run on four hits in six innings pitched against the New York Mets -- the two exchanged pleasantries on Twitter.
"Congratulations to Deivi García on his Major League debut for the Yankees," Martinez wrote in Spanish. "Excellent debut, from the town of Bonao and just 21 years old! Nice job."
"I am very proud that some compare me to you," Garcia replied in Spanish. "It is an honor for me to know that you are taking your time to see me play. Thank you very much for all the support!"
Martinez was a hated figure in New York during his playing days (especially after the Don Zimmer incident) but is beloved in his native Dominican Republic, and the next generation of pitchers clearly doesn't mind crossing rivalry lines to show him love.