Byline: John Conceison
BOSTON - Pedro Martinez still never fails to light up a room.
Soon after being named a special assistant to Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington on Thursday, the soon-to-be Hall of Famer had that twinkle in his eye while talking to the media about coming back to the organization where he was arguably the most dominant pitcher around the turn of our century.
Pedro's smile accentuated his excitement about returning to work for the Sox, starting with this spring training.
"I miss the field, so I'm going to be on the field," Martinez said before Thursday night's Boston baseball writers dinner. "And once I get to the field, I'm really going to get involved. I think I'll be involved with everything. I want to get my nose dirty.
"Hopefully, some of the knowledge I have, I'll be able to communicate and have guys take advantage of it."
"It probably means he has to be on time now," joked Terry Francona, the former Red Sox manager and current Cleveland skipper, who Thursday night was presented with the Judge Emil Fuchs Award for meritorious service to baseball. "If you want to get input on how to pitch, you can't go to a smarter guy. I think it's great, it's a good fit. When you start bringing back Varitek, Pedro, they are the Red Sox, so I think it's terrific."
According to Martinez, he had been in frequent touch with Cherington since the latter was named GM in 2011.
"Once Ben became the GM, I was always really close to Ben, before and now, and I offered my help any time he needed it," Martinez said. "Just call and I'll be there."
Martinez said talks turned to his new position about a month ago.
"We had been talking a lot," he said. "I was giving him advice on how to keep his composure. It was a tough season last year and he was really stressed out. I was saying, `Take it easy, my friend, we all had a bad year. You can reach back and regroup.' And he's doing that. And then we started talking and talking and talking, and everything worked out, like a friendship."
Martinez also is excited about working with new manager John Farrell.
"Pitcher to pitcher, I think we have a lot in common and we have a lot we can relate," Martinez said. "He has a presence. Even when he's walking down the street, you can tell he has the character, he has the presence. He means what he says, he's honest, and he's going to be a fine presence for the players."
As for this season's Sox, Martinez knows they're in for a challenge coming off the last-place...