Tyler Kepner of the New York Times has some interesting teasers from Pedro Martinez’s new book, “Pedro,” which is set to be released on Monday. In one of them, Martinez claims that Mets COO Jeff Wilpon urged him to pitch hurt during his first season with the team in 2005.
Martinez writes that his toe was hurt and that Manager Willie Randolph had told him he was done for the season. But, he said, Wilpon, now the Mets’ chief operating officer, wanted to sell tickets for a matchup against the star Marlins left-hander Dontrelle Willis. Martinez said he protested the order and offered to give back the rest of his contract.
“While I’m the boss here, you’re going to have to do what I say,” Wilpon said, according to Martinez, who gave in and pitched. He lost the game, which drew 25,093 fans, and said the injury prolonged the toe problem. Other parts of his body broke down the next season, and Martinez was inactive for the Mets’ run to Game 7 of the 2006 National League Championship Series.
“I couldn’t help but think about how when I was healthy in 2005, our team wasn’t that good,” Martinez writes. “But as my health declined, I was urged to pitch a meaningless game at the end of 2005 that wound up shortening my recovery time for 2006 and led me to a hospital where doctors performed a three-hour arthroscopic procedure to repair my shoulder.”
The Mets were only on the fringes of contention in 2005, but they rode Martinez hard down the stretch despite his nagging injury. He threw 122 pitches in a shutout against the Braves leading up to this particular outing. While he ended up making the start against the Marlins, he was pulled after just 75 pitches and Willie Randolph said after the game that he was “really banged up.” It turned out to be his final start of the season. It’s worth noting that his toe issue dated back to 2004 during his time with the Red Sox and there had long been questions about how long his shoulder would hold up.
Wilpon has denied Martinez’s claim and said that decisions on player health “have always been put in the hands of our baseball people.” He’s not going to get much benefit of the doubt from some Mets fans and others, but Martinez said in an interview that he puts more blame on himself than Wilpon and that he should have listened to his body.