FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Pedro Martinez took no prisoners as a player, be it nearly no-hitting the Rays after Gerald Williams charged him, olé-ing Don Zimmer in a brawl with the Yankees, or demanding someone wake up the damn Bambino so he could "drill him in the ass."
Since retiring and becoming a pitching consultant with the Red Sox, however, Martinez has taken the more genial approach, tooling around camp like a younger Luis Tiant, offering wisdom and encouragement to Red Sox pitchers of all ages and abilities, happy to impart some of the knowledge that made him not just the most feared pitcher of his generation, but a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
Martinez is particularly proud of left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez, who finally harnessed his considerable talent last season en route to a career-high 19 wins and sixth-place finish in the AL Cy Young Award voting. Had the rest of the starting staff stayed healthy, E-Rod's emergence may have positioned the Red Sox to repeat as World Series champions.
Instead, injuries to Chris Sale, David Price, and Nathan Eovaldi left the rotation in tatters and the Red Sox out of the playoffs.
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While Martinez may operate at age 48 with a perpetual grin, he can still provide tough love when it's warranted, and Rodriguez is a player he and others in the organization haven't hesitated to ride when they feel his focus slipping.
"There were times I had to be hard on him," he said. "He took it like a man. He took it from Price. He took it from [Rick] Porcello. He learned discipline. He wanted to do all the things he needed to, including having those hard times to hear us say hey, 'Strap it on right now.' He took it. He did it the right way, and right now it's paying great dividends."
The test for E-Rod following his breakout campaign will be repeating it. As Martinez noted, Price and Porcello stayed on Rodriguez practically from Day 1 of spring training last year, and former manager Alex Cora rode him, too.
Rodriguez, the Venezuelan who turns 27 in April, will need to be more self-motivated this season with all three of them gone.
"Now he's confident," Martinez said. "He knows that having success is so fulfilling for someone like him. How do you keep him [motivated]? Baseball is a humbling sport. Today you're on top, tomorrow you could be on the bottom. Just keep him focused on the work he has to do, keep him excited about the things he does on the field, and actually appreciating the things he does right. When you fall in love with doing things right, normally you're going to strive for success."
Rodriguez threw live BP on Wednesday under Martinez's watchful eye. Like the other pitchers on the roster, he's expected to make six starts this spring so he can hit the ground running on Opening Day, March 26, in Toronto.
In the bigger picture, though, the question is if he can avoid complacency and do it again. Martinez is ready with a message on this subject.
"Imagine how E-Rod went back during the winter, once he laid his head on the pillow," Martinez said. "He said, 'I did my job.' That's what you want to have when you go home — the sensation that you tried hard, you did your job, you earned your salary, everybody is at peace with you, everyone wants a piece of you, everybody wants to see you. It is a great feeling.
"That's how we keep him motivated. We keep him thinking about those great moments, and striving to be better every single day."