NEW YORK - Phillies manager Charlie Manuel knows it's a calculated risk, starting Pedro Martinez at Yankee Stadium in Game 2 of the World Series.
The manager knows Martinez will hear it tonight. He'll be reminded of his famous comment that the Yankees were his daddy. He'll be hooted at for his run-in with popular former Yankees coach Don Zimmer, when he pushed the septuagenarian to the ground. There will be insults that are scatological and some that are outrageous.
And, he said, he's prepared for whatever comes his way when he squares off against Yankees righthander A.J. Burnett.
"After playing [with the Mets], I came to realize something," he said late yesterday afternoon. "New York fans are very passionate and aggressive. But after it all, after you take your uniform off and you deal with the people, they're real human beings. They're just being fans.
"I have all the respect in the world for the way they enjoy being fans. Sometimes they might be giving you the middle finger just like they will be cursing you and telling you what color underwear you're wearing. All those things you can hear. But at the end of the day, they're just great fans that want to see the team win. I don't have a problem with that."
Martinez, uncharacteristically solemn, said the media created a misleading impression of him.
"I think in every aspect, the way you guys used and abused me," he said. "I remember quotes in the paper. 'Here comes the man New York loves to hate.' None of you has probably ever eaten steak with me, or rice and beans with me, to understand what the man is about. You might see the player or the competitor. But the man?
"There was one time I remember when I was a free agent, there was talk I might meet with [Yankees owner] George Steinbrenner. One of your colleagues had me in the paper with horns and a tail, red horns and a tail. That's the sign of the devil. I'm a Christian man. I don't like those things. I take those things very seriously.
"Those are the kind of things that fans see and they actually sometimes influence those people to believe that you are a bad person, that you are like an ogre . . . The way people perceive me in New York, I don't know if they got to know me a little bit better after I got to the Mets. It's totally different than the way I am. I just compete. And, yes, I will do whatever it takes to beat you. But I'm a human being after I take my clothes off."
He addressed the Zimmer incident, which took place in the fourth inning of Game 3 of the 2003 ALCS when he was with Boston. It started when Martinez hit a Yankee with a pitch, and turned into a bench-clearing brawl when Boston's Manny Ramirez took exception to a pitch from Roger Clemens in the bottom of the inning.
"I'm sorry I'm going to recall this because it was an ugly scene," he said. "This is probably the first time I'm ever going to talk about it publicly. But when Zim came over to me, I thought he was going to give me some advice.
"But at the time, I'm going to be honest right now, my shoulder was barking. I was pitching on 3 days' rest, I think. It was two men on. I loaded the bases with a hit-by-pitch that wasn't a hit-by-pitch. The ball hit the bat of Karim Garcia.
"Zim charged me and I think he's going to say something, but his reaction was totally the opposite. He was trying to punch my mouth and told me a couple bad words about my mom. I just had to react and defend myself. But the [twist] that it took made me look like a monster that just came in to play at Yankee Stadium. I remember getting back to my dugout and seeing middle fingers. My mom, my poor mom. I'm glad she's blessed by God because those curses were, I mean, unbelievable."
Martinez said he regretted the incident. "When I saw Zim down on the ground, I thought so much of my dad," he said. "I respect older people. I respect elders. I don't condone anything like that. But I had no choice but to just respond and get away . . . It was a disgrace for baseball.
"I don't like the tweaking you guys gave to the whole scenario because I don't feel like it was my fault. At that time, when I threw that pitch, I was just trying to jam Karim Garcia. But when you're struggling, no, you don't know how it feels. Shoulder barking, it's a hard thing to deal with."
And, yes, he's prepared for the inevitable who's-your-daddy chants that refer to his comment after a late-season loss in 2004: "I just tip my hat and call the Yankees my daddy."
"Maybe when I said that quote out of frustration, I had the purpose of hearing it now, hearing it the following few years that I played, because every time I hear it it reminds me not to make the same mistake," he said. "When you have 60,000 people chanting your name, waiting for you to throw the ball, you have to consider yourself something special, someone that really has a purpose out there.
"It really reminds me that God is my daddy. It gives me strength and I believe I can do anything."
Throwing a changeup
Charlie Manuel adjusted his lineup for the first time this postseason. He didn't have a choice, of course, since the designated hitter was being used in the American League park.
Raul Ibanez was the DH. Ben Francisco started in left and Pedro Feliz and Carlos Ruiz were each bumped down a spot.
Manuel declined to say if he would stick with the alignment tonight against righthander A.J. Burnett; it's possible that Matt Stairs could get the start.