Pedro Martinez is seeing an increased role under Alex Cora, who has been keeping things loose.

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Pedro Martinez has been a major presence in the early days of Boston Red Sox spring training. He’s been a hands-on resource for new manager Alex Cora and pitching coach Dana LeVangie, working with pitchers young and old.

He’s spent the last few days with Rick Porcello, a veteran who went from a Cy Young Award-winning season in 2016 to a major league-leading 17 losses in 2017. Martinez has also worked closely with younger pitchers like Eduardo Rodriguez.

One common message that has come from the Hall of Famer is you need to learn how to keep the pressure of pitching in Boston from interfering with your preparation.

He believes Cora is going to help the team have more fun after winning back-to-back division titles but losing first-round playoff series both years.

“I think they have a sort of loose clubhouse,” Martinez said. “They have a younger manager who realizes that music goes on, that fun is part of the game. He’s been there. He’s also a fun guy to be around, so I think they’re going to relate to that kind of attitude more and more and more.”


Martinez has been far more involved in the early days of camp under Cora. He has a close relationship with LeVangie, who was the bullpen coach when Martinez was pitching for Boston. They built a relationship based on trust then, a relationship that continues today. Martinez admitted he feels more liberated at this camp, welcomed by this staff to pass on his wisdom.

He’s not alone. Derek Lowe was in camp over the weekend, and Mike Lowell arrived Monday to work with young third baseman Rafael Devers. They are all former champions who succeeded in Boston and had fun doing it. Fun seemed to be in short supply over the past few seasons at Fenway.

“I’m actually one of the older coaches that is going to be with them,” Martinez said, “but I also understand fun, and I love the fact that everybody has to have fun. The season is definitely too long, and they need to have fun in order for them to enjoy it the entire season.”

Martinez believes a new, relaxed attitude will help the Sox in the coming season. He believes there is a concerted effort to try to avoid the pressure that can make Boston such a tough place to play.

He has already seen a different attitude from David Price, a one-time Cy Young Award winner who seemed to be extremely unhappy pitching for Boston in 2017.

“I don’t remember the last year I saw David Price running outside, interacting with the people, exchanging words,” said Martinez. “(He’s been) really smiling a lot. The entire rotation has been running together around the fields where the kids can see them up close and actually ask them for an autograph. I don’t remember seeing all that last year.”


Price was hamstrung by injuries in 2017, and was publicly reprimanded for an altercation with Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley during the season. He has admitted he “could have handled things better” last season, an admission that has impressed Martinez.

“He’s trying,” Martinez said. “He really is. And I hope the fans realize that and embrace it. Because he’s really looking forward to being different. And I think the postseason had a lot to say with how the fans responded to him doing his job when he was a little bit healthier.”

More than anything, Martinez believes the elbow injury Price suffered last spring led him to a disappointing season on and off the field. Price seems healthy here in Florida, and if he can pitch well he could quickly become an important part of the team in 2018.

“Now he’s healthy, now he’s going to try to go out there and not only do it on the field but also to embrace the fans,” Martinez said. “I’m actually encouraging the fans to embrace him. Go approach him. He’s a nice kid. They just don’t know him well enough.”

Tom Caron is a studio host for the Red Sox broadcast on NESN. His column appears in the Portland Press Herald on Tuesdays.

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