Martinez Interview March 7

EDGAR MARTINEZ

Q. Have you stayed involved in baseball in Puerto Rico?  And if you've followed the way baseball has gone down in Puerto Rico, what it's been due to and what measures can be taken for it to come back up?

            EDGAR MARTINEZ:  Yes, since I've retired I've not been involved in baseball, neither here nor in the United States.  In the U.S. I do go to Spring Training and I help out a few days.  In Puerto Rico I've not been involved in baseball in Puerto Rico since I retired.

            In terms of what may be happening with baseball in Puerto Rico, well, I do know that in the years that I used to play, there were a lot of us players that were established in Puerto Rico in the Big Leagues, and we would play in Puerto Rico.  And through the years, where all those good years that the league had in Puerto Rico, mainly the players of the '70s, the '80s that were established in the Big Leagues, they would play in Puerto Rico.  I believe that that could be something that has affected the league in Puerto Rico because the players don't play, and if they do, they play a very short time here in Puerto Rico.

            And the other reason may be that nowadays the young kids have more options of entertainment, other sports in Puerto Rico.  Baseball in the years that I was growing up, it was the number one sport.  But now children have many options.

            Q.  How does it feel to walk in through here and see a tournament of this magnitude, and knowing that years before the Classic existed, I don't know if ‑‑ when you come back, you wonder, why didn't this tournament exist when I was active?  And if you ever wanted to participate in an event like this.

            EDGAR MARTINEZ:  Well, yes, definitely playing, representing Puerto Rico is something that the ballplayer enjoys a lot, and it makes a lot of sense.  Yes, I do accept that I feel a little bit jealous in not being able to be on the playing field and participating, competing, representing Puerto Rico.  But at the same time, you feel proud feeling that Puerto Rico can set up a show at this level, and that the young Puerto Rican baseball players have a chance of representing Puerto Rico.

            Q.  Puerto Rico expected you to be inducted into the Hall of Fame the first year, and knowing that you are an acknowledged player as designated hitter, and this year you got almost the same amount of votes.  Do you dream that one day you will be in the Hall of Fame?

            EDGAR MARTINEZ: Well, first of all, to be included or be named as a possibility that could go into the Hall of Fame is an honor in itself, for me or for any ballplayer who's played in the Big Leagues.  I mean, it is an honor.

            But at the same time, I understand.  I understand the situation.  I played as a designated hitter.  I know that the writers don't see a designated hitter as worthy of being in the Hall of Fame.  So I always knew that that was going to be something that was going against me.

            But I still think that through the years, more credit may be given to the designated hitter, more credit can be given to some of the statistics that I had that usually are not given so much credit, like for example, the on‑base percentage, that's one.  Even though I don't have 3,000 hits, but an average over .300, I believe the statistics could be given more value in the years to come, and I may be given the chance to keep going up, and maybe in a year or not too far away, I may be able to be in the Hall of Fame.

            Q.  On that same subject, the fact that there are more candidates that are coming in with an image tainted by the matter of the steroids.  Do you think that having no stain like that would help you in the future to go up in the list of candidates?

            EDGAR MARTINEZ:  Yes, I hope that the opportunity is there.  Having a percentage of 32, what has been seen in the histories of ballplayers who start with a percentage of 32 percent more or less, in the end have usually gone in.  But yes, it takes time.

            In terms of the writers, they have a criteria that they follow, and maybe in the future they may see that criteria and they may give me a chance.  But I still have hope with 32 percent that in the not‑too‑distant future I'll be given a chance.

            Q.  Two quick questions:  Do you feel that this tournament should be obligatory for the stars that are established in the Major Leagues?  Some have said no for different reasons.  And the other one, you say that you're kind of away from baseball.  How is a day like today for Edgar Martinez?

            EDGAR MARTINEZ:  Should it be mandatory for the stars?  No, I believe it should not be mandatory.  I believe that the prestige of representing Puerto Rico, the prestige of the tournament is sufficient for the ballplayer to represent his country.

            When you make it mandatory, I believe that the ballplayer ‑‑ well, it won't help the situation.  I believe that there are enough ballplayers who can represent, like for example, in Puerto Rico that can do a good job.

            If I answered your question, I mean, my opinion would be that it should not be mandatory.