FORT MYERS, Fla. — Pedro Martinez has taken to Rubby De La Rosa, and not only because the pair just discovered they’re related (cousins on Pedro’s mother side).
The new Red Sox special assistant and the 23-year-old pitching prospect have been inseparable throughout camp, with Martinez constantly at the ready whenever De La Rosa might need a round of advice. And, besides bloodlines, there’s a reason for the former ace’s interest — he sees a bit of himself in the youngster.
“Anything you want to do in baseball, as far as pitching, that kid has a chance,” Martinez said. “He has an opportunity to be someone special. Not just a regular player, but special. When you see someone like De La Rosa you think someone special, like a [Roger] Clemens, a Juan Marichal. You think about elite players. That’s the type of stuff he has.”
De La Rosa — one of the players who came to the Red Sox in the August trade with the Dodgers — has been the talk of Red Sox spring training. While he is being limited two two-inning outings throughout the Grapefruit League schedule while returning from Tommy John surgery, and will see his innings total hover just over 100 innings in the coming season (most likely for Triple-A Pawtucket), there is an excitement in the organization regarding the righty.
“He’s been impressive, not just in terms of the sheer stuff, but his ability to manipulate the baseball,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said after his team’s workout Friday. “He’s got a good feel for his changeup. He can throw his breaking ball for strikes. But we’re dealing with a set of circumstances that are different than [John Lackey's], coming off Tommy John. We’ll be a little bit more slow-paced with Rubby, but he’s been impressive early on.”
It isn’t the first time De La Rosa has impressed, as was evidenced by comments made by his former minor-league pitching coach, Chuck Crim, to WEEI.com’s Alex Speier early in the offseason. (That was when Pedro’s name first came up.)
“Very few guys have that arm speed that Rubby has and still are able to start, carry innings and have a tremendous out-pitch,” said Crim. “I would say a guy like maybe Pedro Martinez. The throw is different, but the stuff is there. You could probably compare his actual stuff but not his [throwing motion] to a guy like that. Granted, it’s going to take Rubby a few years to have all the experience and knowledge of major league pitching, but the stuff you could probably compare to Pedro. I consider the attitude the same — the mound presence is very confident that he can get anybody out. With that guy’s stuff, who wouldn’t be confident?”
And while Martinez prefers to reference the likes of Clemens and Marichal, he isn’t averse to getting in line with Crim’s analysis.
“What really impresses me is his progress,” Pedro said. “He’s a young kid. Very young. The way he changed physically, and the way he improved … His velocity went from day night and day. It’s unbelievable how he changed. Also, his will to work. You rarely see a young kid like that so willing to work, and so open to work to do things things nobody expects a young kid wanting to do.”
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