NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The end of the 2005 season was ugly for Pedro Martinez.
The Hall of Fame right-hander was in his first season with the Mets, and he was hurt. He didn’t want to pitch, but he did anyway because he was forced to, allegedly, by Mets COO Jeff Wilpon.
All of this — and much, much more — is explained in “Pedro,” Martinez’s new book. According to The New York Times, Martinez writes that Wilpon made the ace pitch a meaningless September game despite the fact that he was dealing with a toe injury.
Manager Willie Randolph had already told Martinez that he was finished for the season, according to the newspaper, but Wilpon told the eight-time All-Star that he wanted him out there to face Dontrelle Willis so the organization could sell more tickets.
“While I’m the boss here, you’re going to have to do what I say,” Wilpon told Martinez, the pitcher writes.
The Times reported that in the book, Martinez writes that he offered to return his contract, but ultimately agreed to pitch. He was limited to 23 starts the following season.
“I couldn’t help but think about how when I was healthy in 2005, our team wasn’t that good,” Martinez writes in his book, according to the newspaper. “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.”
Martinez was inactive for the Mets in the 2006 National League Championship Series, where they fell to the Cardinals in seven games.
The Times reports that Wilpon denied the claim in a statement.
“Pedro was always a great competitor and deserving of being in the Hall of Fame,” Wilpon said. “This particular excerpt in the book is false, as those kinds of decisions have always been put in the hands of our baseball people.”
Despite that alarming story, the Times reports that Martinez said he very much enjoyed his four-year tenure in Queens and doesn’t have any hard feelings toward the organization.
“When you’re going to get hurt, you’re going to get hurt,” Martinez told the newspaper. “I don’t have anybody to blame but probably myself for not listening to my body. I think I was brave to pitch games, but I think I took it to extremes that day.”
Martinez confirmed the story on Monday afternoon while chatting with WFAN host Mike Francesa in studio.
“(Wilpon) told me, clearly — and we had an argument — that that’s why we paid you,” Martinez told Francesa in regard to the Mets having already sold 49,000 tickets for the game against Willis and the Marlins. “I said, ‘But I was shut down already for the year.’ And he goes, ‘Well that’s why we paid you this money. So you could pitch when we ask.’
“I said, ‘OK. You’re the boss. You have the last word.’ So I went out. In the winter, I couldn’t find a solution for my toe, and now every time I push off the toe I’m bleeding. It was swollen, it’s sore. I’m numb, I’m not feeling well. And that’s where I blew my calf. Everything just came after that. I tried to pitch on a bad calf, blew my shoulder. Boom, 2006.”
Martinez and Francesa talked about a host of other topics, ranging from the three-time Cy Young Award winner’s upbringing to the beginning and end of his brilliant career. The two discussed specific hitters and specific memorable games, and in a particularly juicy segment, Martinez reiterated why he still holds a grudge against former Yankees catcher Jorge Posada.
Below you can listen to the fascinating spot in full.