Pedro Martinez

Pedro Martinez relives glory days with iconic Sports Illustrated cover

Pedro Martinez relives glory days with iconic Sports Illustrated cover

Twenty years ago, the Boston Red Sox were in the 82nd year of the Curse of the Bambino. There was some hope, though, in the form of the most electric pitcher in baseball.

That pitcher, of course, was Pedro Martinez. The Red Sox legend was coming off a historic 1999 season in which he earned his second Cy Young Award and finished as the American League MVP runner-up. His 23 wins, 2.07 ERA, and 313 strikeouts topped the league, and he continued to exert his dominance over opposing hitters the following season.

Sports Illustrated previewed the 2000 campaign by featuring Martinez on their iconic cover. They even went as far as to predict the Red Sox would win a World Series title with Martinez leading the charge.

On Friday, Martinez took a trip down memory lane and posted the cover to Twitter.

How's that for nostalgia?

Obviously, the Red Sox had to wait four more years before they finally broke the curse. Still, that's a cover to hold on to if you still have some old Sports Illustrated magazines laying around your household.

In 2000, Martinez earned his third Cy Young, going 18-6 with a 1.74 ERA, 284 strikeouts, and an absurd 0.74 WHIP.

How Red Sox starters performed on Opening Day in years they won World Series

How Red Sox starters performed on Opening Day in years they won World Series

It's pretty special to be the Opening Day starting pitcher for the Boston Red Sox. But, how well have those pitchers performed on Opening Day in years the Red Sox won the World Series?

Here's a look at the game scores as well and if the Sox won or lost each game.

Now let's take more of an in-depth look at the game stats starting with 2018's starter Chris Sale. 

Chris Sale: 2018 vs. Tampa Bay Rays

Sale pitched six innings in a 6-4 loss to the Rays on March 29, 2018. He allowed one hit and no runs while striking out nine batters and walking three. It's safe to say Sale did his job on Opening Day in 2018, but that loss essentially didn't matter as Boston went on to defeat the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series. 

Jon Lester: 2013 vs. New York Yankees

Lester tossed five innings in an 8-2 win over the Yankees on April 1, 2013. Although he allowed two runs on five hits, he fanned seven batters and only walked two. Not only did Lester do his job on the mound, but the batters shredded through C.C. Sabathia, driving in four runs on eight hits through five innings. 

Curt Schilling: 2007 vs. Kansas City Royals

Schilling wasn't his best against the Royals on April 2, 2007. He pitched just four innings in a 7-1 loss to Kansas City on Opening Day. He allowed five runs on eight hits while striking out five batters and walking two. 

Pedro Martinez: 2004 vs. Baltimore Orioles

Martinez pitched six innings in a 7-2 loss to the Orioles on Opening Day in 2004. He allowed just two runs on seven hits while striking out five batters and walking only one. Quite clearly Martinez wasn't the issue in 2004, his relief pitchers five runs in the loss. 

Babe Ruth: 1918 vs. Philadelphia Athletics

Ruth tossed nine innings in a 7-1 stomping of the Athletics in 1918. He allowed just one run on four hits while striking out three and walking just two batters. Ruth also averaged .333 at the plate in that game with one hit and two RBIs.

Babe Ruth: 1916 vs. Philadelphia Athletics

Ruth pitched 8.1 innings in a 2-1 victory over the Athletics on April 12, 1916. He allowed no runs on four hits while striking out six batters and walking two. In three plate appearances, Ruth struck out once.

Ernie Shore: 1915 vs. Philadelphia Athletics

Shore tossed eight innings in a 2-0 loss to the Athletics on Opening Day in 1915. He allowed two runs on seven hits while striking out three batters and walking four. 

Smoky Joe Wood: 1912 vs. New York Yankees

Wood pitched nine innings in a 5-3 win over the Yankees on April 11, 1912. He allowed seven hits while striking out two batters and walking three. 

*1903 info unavailable*

If you're keeping track, that's a 4-4 record on Opening Day in the years the Red Sox won the World Series. Quite frankly, Opening Day isn't the best measure of how the Sox will perform throughout the season.

Pedro Martinez practicing tough love with Red Sox' Eduardo Rodriguez

Pedro Martinez practicing tough love with Red Sox' Eduardo Rodriguez

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."