A couple of weeks ago no one would have considered Port St. Lucie, Fl. the center of the baseball universe. It was arguably exactly the nexus last night.
The Dugout was lucky enough to watch last night’s duel between future hall-of-famer Pedro Martinez and phenom David Price (photo) at Tradition Field. At least nine other media members were in attendance – by far the biggest turnout since the Mets headed back to the crumbing infrastructure that is their home.
Setting aside the chaos that is New York, let's look at Price’s performance. Bloggers, news sources and fans alike have been quick to proclaim that Price got the better of Martinez. Looking strictly at the numbers, he did.
Both pitched six innings. Price, the top pick in last year’s draft, didn’t allow a run and earned the win after his Vero Beach Devil Rays touched Martinez for two fourth-inning runs – the only runs of the game. Price fanned nine, three more than Martinez.
The number comparison isn’t completely fair, though, since the pitchers were working toward different purposes. Price pitched to win the game and to hopefully advance within the organization. Martinez’s goal was to get his arm ready to return to the bigs.
Martinez estimated that 90 percent of his 82 pitches were fastballs. He said he threw six cutters, only one of which did a Vero batter even manage to put into play. He would have liked to give St. Lucie a win – as the team with the worst record in baseball, they really could have used it – but getting out of the game healthy and comfortable was the biggest priority.
That being said, Martinez had plenty of good things to say about Price’s performance:
He’s amazing that kid. He’s very mature for his time in professional baseball, very talented. Oh, my God. God bless him and keep him healthy.
Responding to another question, he added:
That kid did a hell of a job at throwing first-pitch strikes, pounding the strike zone and challenging hitters. I was watching that. He did it like a big leaguer. Such command. Right there. [His approach was] I’m challenging you; I’m going to do what I have to do. He didn’t show any fear. That’s the kind if talent you like to see.
Pretty high praise from a guy who whose numbers suggest he knows what he’s talking about.
What’s in a name?: There was confusion in the press box as to whether Vero Beach followed its parent club’s lead and changed its nickname to Rays. Fear not friends of the devil, Vero is still the Devil Rays. To borrow from another song, the devil went down to Vero.