Martinez will work alongside 2015 Hall of Fame classmate Smoltz
By Mark Newman
For Pedro Martinez, who made seven consecutive Opening Day starts for the Red Sox from 1998-2004, it's time for a new Opening Week challenge.
MLB Network president Rob McGlarry announced on Wednesday that Martinez has joined its stable of broadcast analysts, adding to his continuing role as a Turner Sports postseason analyst in what is sure to be a memorable summer for the legendary right-hander from the Dominican Republic.
Martinez will make his MLB Network debut on MLB Tonight on April 8 as a studio analyst. He also will join the pregame coverage of the MLB Network Showcase game on April 10. Although he will not be in the booth for that Friday night game, McGlarry said Martinez will be paired with John Smoltz in the Network booth this season, and that should be a highlight not only because of their expertise but also because they both are being inducted into the Hall of Fame on July 26, along with Craig Biggio.
"I'm extremely excited to be with him," Martinez said of Smoltz. "Not only to work with him, but also to interact with him like a human being. What a gentleman, what a family. I'm more excited at being with him in the same area than I am to actually analyze the game, just to see those guys and see what family members they are, how funny they are. I can't wait for the moment to be with those guys."
Martinez immediately proved as colorful an analyst as he was a player (see: "Wacha-Wacha!" in 2013). He said in Wednesday's conference call that it has been "more work than I thought" and now relates more to the media, and he comes to MLB Network with more confidence.
"I'm looking forward to having fun and doing what we like to do the most, which is talk baseball, analyze things that will happen during the game, how we would approach some of those things," Martinez said. "I'm excited and can't wait for the moment to get there.
"I have been trying to learn every time I go out there. I'm feeling more comfortable as I got closer to the TV and to the way things work. I've also had an awful lot of help from the people I work with; they have been really patient and generous in dealing with me and teaching me the right thing to do. I feel I have progressed a little bit, but I have so much to learn still."
Said McGlarry: "Pedro was a terrific competitor and an electric performer both on and off the field, and he's always displayed a unique appreciation and understanding of the game. We look forward to having him join his Hall of Fame classmate John Smoltz as an MLB Network analyst and share his perspective with our viewers throughout the season. We're really looking forward to him working with all of our analysts and providing his unique perspective."
Martinez wasted no time dishing his opinion around the Majors. He cited a long list of clubs that he expects to contend, and at the top of that list is Boston, having just spent some time around the Red Sox's management and players this Spring Training.
"I'm excited. I actually went over to John [Farrell] and David [Ortiz] and some of the players, and we kind of held a little group meeting, we were just talking," Martinez said. "I picture myself facing the Red Sox, and I came up with so many things that I realized would happen during the season. Guys with a little experience in the big leagues, the starters are going to have a hard time dealing with that lineup. Look at Mookie Betts, Shane Victorino, Dustin Pedroia. You look at Bogey [Xander Bogaerts], David, Hanley [Ramirez], Panda [Pablo Sandoval] and [Mike] Napoli, who's healthy. Panda is the toughest at-bat you can get in the big leagues. Napoli is going to attract a lot of pitches, thanks to him. It's going to be a headache really to face that lineup."
Martinez's Opening Day streak with Boston is tied with Roger Clemens for the club record. The final one in 2004 got the ball rolling for a Red Sox team that would reverse the curse at last, resulting in a long-awaited World Series title.
"I enjoyed those moments. I wanted to be that guy who was singled out, and go and take the responsibility of the team from the get-go," Martinez recalled. "I wanted to be the guy who said, 'This is how we started -- because of me.' I also wanted to take the pressure off the rest of the staff coming up behind me. I always liked the big games, the big moments. I was so looking forward to those challenges."
Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.