This story is a couple of weeks old now, but in his new book, “Pedro,” former Mets pitcher Pedro Martinez alleges that team COO Jeff Wilpon forced him to pitch a game while injured late in the 2005 season, despite the fact that the Mets were already eliminated from the playoffs.
According to excerpts from the book, which was released on May 5, Martinez was suffering from a toe injury and was told by manager Willie Randolph that his season was over. But with ticket sales in mind, Martinez said, Wilpon forced the injured ace onto the mound that night.
“I’m the boss around here,” Wilpon allegedly said. “You’re going to have to do what I say.”
Martinez ultimately did pitch that night, a decision that he says was harmful to his long-term health and the fate of the 2006 Mets, who came within one win of a World Series berth. In 2006, Martinez was plagued by calf and rotator cuff injuries that caused him to miss the playoffs and almost all of 2007.
“I couldn’t help but think about how when I was healthy in 2005, our team wasn’t that good,” Martinez said in the book. “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.”
The game in question occurred on September 22, 2005, a Thursday night matchup at Shea Stadium against the Florida Marlins and their then-ace Dontrelle Willis. Martinez took a hard luck 2-1 loss that night, as he allowed two runs on six hits in five innings. It was his final start of the season, and only 25,093 fans attended the game.
In a statement released through The New York Times, Wilpon emphatically denied all of Martinez’s claims.
“This particular excerpt in the book is false,” Wilpon said in the statement. “Those kinds of decisions have always been put in the hands of our baseball people.”
Despite the allegations, the Hall of Famer emphasized that he did not blame Wilpon or anybody else for his late-career injury woes.
“When you’re going to get hurt, you’re going to get hurt,” Martinez said. “I don’t have anybody to blame but probably myself for not listening to my body. I was paid to pitch, so I went and did that.”
2005 was the final season Martinez recorded double-digit wins, 30 starts, 200 innings, 200 strikeouts, or a sub-1.00 WHIP. Following that year, Martinez played three more injury-plagued seasons as a Met before retiring with the Phillies in 2009.