Friday, September 4, 2009

Former Expo Pedro Martinez Back on the Mound

This article was first published in the September 4th edition of Main Street Week - page 5, and is reprinted here with permission from the editors. Drop by to have a look at a great community newspaper or sign up and have Main Street Week delivered right to your inbox every Friday

Former Expo Pedro Martinez Back on the Mound

Although he was only a member of the Montreal Expos from 1994 until the end of the 1997 season, baseball fans will certainly remember Pedro Martinez. The hard throwing right-hander from Manoguayabo, in the Dominican Republic, has returned to the field as a member of the World Series champion Philadelphia Phillies. Plagued by injuries in recent years, Martinez signed with the Phillies in July as a free agent and after a rehabilitation stint in the minors, he returned to the majors on August 12th, winning his first game 12-5 over the Chicago Cubs.

An all-star eight times during his career and a three-time Cy Young Award winner, Martinez is the only pitcher in Expos history to win the award given to the best pitcher in baseball. Winning the award in 1997, Martinez had one of his best seasons while pitching at the Olympic Stadium, posting a 17-8 win/loss record, a 1.90 earned run average (ERA) and he struck out 305 batters while pitching 13 complete games.

He started his career with the Los Angeles Dodgers after joining the team as a free agent in 1988 and made his major league debut September 24th, 1992. After one season as a reliever in Los Angeles, the manager of the Dodgers at the time, Tommy Lasorda, believed Martinez was not strong enough to be a power pitcher and sent him to Montreal as part of the trade for second baseman and fan favourite, Delino DeSheilds, before the start of the 1994 season.

Martinez left Montreal as a free agent and moved to the American League, becoming a member of the Boston Red Sox from 1998 until the end of the 2004 season. He was a major factor in Boston’s World Series win in 2004, the first for the franchise in 86 years. After the victory, he dedicated the win to the fans in Montreal for their support of the ‘94 team that should have won the championship but did not get the opportunity to finish the season due to the strike, which led to the cancellation of the World Series.

In 2006, while a member of the New York Mets, injuries started to take their toll on Martinez and he began to spend time on the disabled list. He missed most of the 2007 season after surgery for a torn calf muscle and rotator cuff, pitching in only five games that season. He became a free agent after an ineffective 2008 season and an appearance at the 2009 world Baseball Classic did not yield any contract offers until the Phillies called in July.

In his 18 seasons, Martinez has 216 victories and he has struck out 3,131 batters, while posting a 2.92 ERA. He finds himself on a Phillies team leading the National League East division and he will certainly be a factor when the playoffs begin. He was only a member of the Expos for three seasons but Martinez holds a special place in the hearts and record books in Montreal.

Before signing off this week, here is some interesting Expos trivia. Who was the last player to wear an Expos uniform? After the 2004 season, the last year that major league baseball was in Montreal, a group of players travelled to Japan for a series of exhibition games during the off-season. Brad Wilkerson was the lone Expos representative on the trip and the Washington Nationals began play in the spring of 2005, making Wilkerson the last player to wear an Expos uniform on the field in an official capacity. Have a great sports day everyone.

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