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Pedro Martinez ( 1971 - )  Category ( Sports_Figures ) [suggest a correction]
 

With the exception of Nolan Ryan (and, [possibly, Randy Johnson), most major league pitchers who achieve longevity do so only after re-inventing themselves.

The human arm is apparently not constructed in such a way as to withstand flinging a baseball 95 miles an hour forever. If the pitching arm doesn't simply rebel (generally a cause for surgery), it grows tired and the velocity numbers sink.

Pedro Martinez knows all about that. In his youth, the native of Manoguayabo in the Dominican Republic, evolved into one of the most dominant pitchers in major league history, overpowering most hitters with his 96-mph "heater" and fooling others with a complementary changeup.

In 1998, pitching for the Boston Red Sox, Martinez produced a 19-7 record and finish second in the American League in earned run average and strikeouts.

But that was just a preface to 1999, when Martinez went 23-4 with a 3.07 ERA, won the Cy Young Award for the league's top pitcher, and finished second in the American League MVP voting.

Martinez continued to pitch well for the Red Sox, finishing 2004 with a 117-37 record in a Boston uniform. Signed as a free agent by the New York Mets, he posted a 15-8 record and a 2.82 ERA, limiting opponents to a .204 batting average.

Then, the problems began. A calf injury in 2006 not only cost Martinez considerably time on the disabled list, but caused a torn rotator cuff when he was forced to alter his pitching delivery. Various injuries also bedeviled him in 2007 and 2008, and the Mets finally cut him loose. No one else stepped up to make him an offer, and Martinez returned to his native island, his career presumably over.

In August of 2009, however, the Philadelphia Phillies -- leading the National League East but faced with injury problems on its pitching staff -- signed Martinez after visiting him and watching him pitch. Although Martinez' fastball barely broke 90 MHP, he impressed the Phillies with his control and his command of several other pitches. He wound up turning in several strong performances down the stretch as Philadelphia won the pennant and the National League Championship Series to earn a spot in the World Series against the New York Yankees, a team with which Martinez had long feuded.

That's where the storybook ended. Martinez pitched effectively in the second game of the Series, but lost to Andy Pettite. He also allowed four runs in four innings as the Phillies lost the sixth game and the title.

Martinez was originally signed by the Los Angeles Dodgers, making his major league debut in September of 1992. His older brother, Ramon, was already pitching for the Dodgers. He turned in a strong season as a rookie, but was traded to Montreal. Pitching for a bad team in 1997, he became the first pitcher since Walter Johnson in 1913 to reach 300 strikeouts with an earned run average under 2.00.

Throughout his career, Martinez was known for his fierce competitive nature -- a quality that embroiled him in a number of beanball controversies.


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