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Friday, February 15, 2008

Mets' Martinez proud of domination during PED era


Pedro Welcomes Johan With Open Arms

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Pedro Martinez knows his place in the Steroids Era.

"I dominated that era and I did it clean," he said. "I can stand by my numbers and I can be proud of them."

No longer the No. 1 pitcher on his staff, Martinez reported to spring training Thursday with the New York Mets and soon was asked about baseball's doping scandal.

The three-time Cy Young Award winner said he hasn't paid much attention to the fallout from the Mitchell report, and he didn't watch Roger Clemens testify before Congress on Wednesday. But Martinez said he'll probably get caught up on his computer now that he's in camp.

Martinez did have some pointed words, however, for the reporter who once called him a prima donna.

"I have a small frame and when I hurt all I could do was take a couple of Aleve or Advil, a cup of coffee and a little mango and an egg -- and let it go!" he said.

Martinez's point: He wasn't going to try human growth hormone or any other performance-enhancing substance. In fact, he would welcome a more stringent drug-testing program in baseball.

"I wish that they would check every day. That's how bad I want the game to be clean," said Martinez, who had his best years with Montreal and Boston from 1997-2003. "I would rather go home [than] taint the game."

He's not ready to go home just yet.

Wearing sunglasses and all-black workout gear on a sparkling afternoon, the right-hander played long toss and chatted with manager Willie Randolph before plopping down on a picnic table to meet the media.

Back in the clubhouse, there was a Valentine's Day bounty waiting at Martinez's locker, complete with balloons, a teddy bear and two bouquets of flowers.

Entering the final season of a $53 million, four-year contract, the 36-year-old Martinez said he'd like to keep pitching for the Mets beyond 2008.

"It's going to be all dictated by my health," he said. "If I'm healthy, I still have a couple years left. ... If I don't finish as a Met, I think it's going to be a long haul to find another team or whatever."

Martinez said he feels better than he has in almost a decade -- before his right shoulder gave him any problems at all. But he's not sure he'll be able to make 30-plus starts this season.

"Nobody's guaranteed to do that," he said.

Maybe a new partner will help.

The Mets recently acquired two-time Cy Young winner Johan Santana from Minnesota, a move that should take pressure off Martinez, who missed most of last season following shoulder surgery.

"Ahh, I can breathe," Martinez said. "I'm extremely happy to have Johan here. It's like a big glass of cold water when you're thirsty.

"I can't wait to give him a big hug and tell him, 'Hey, we're together.' One from the left side, one from the right side."

Still, Martinez isn't planning to play second fiddle to anyone.

"I know Johan is an ace. And when I get the ball, I'm an ace," he said. "When I get the ball as a starter, I'm the guy styling."

Martinez's rigorous rehabilitation took a toll on him last year. He returned to the mound late in the season, going 3-1 with a 2.57 ERA and 32 strikeouts in five starts.

"When I came back I was still beat up from all the work. I was still stiff," Martinez said. "I was healthy, but I was mentally and physically fatigued."

And he was embarrassed by the team's historic collapse. The Mets squandered a seven-game NL East lead with 17 to play and missed the playoffs, coughing up the division title to Philadelphia on the final day of the season.

"I'm not used to it. I was born a winner. I don't want to go down like that," Martinez said.

He doesn't think the team choked or got scared.

"You could call it lack of concentration, fatigue," Martinez said. "We failed because we got tired and at the end of the year we didn't know how to mentally prepare for those 20 games."

He said the Mets need to pay back their fans for that flop, and he's glad they added a workhorse like Santana to help. But Martinez wouldn't make any predictions, unlike Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins last offseason. Rollins boasted that Philadelphia was the team to beat in the NL East, then backed it up by winning the NL MVP award.

"We have to make Jimmy swallow his tongue," Martinez said with a smile.

Notes
Santana threw off a mound at the Mets' complex. The first official workout for pitchers and catchers is scheduled for Saturday. ... OF Ben Johnson agreed to a minor league contract with the Mets and was invited to spring training.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

Original here

Milan fear for Ronaldo's career


AC Milan striker Ronaldo is fearful he may have to retire after rupturing a tendon in his left knee, claims club owner Silvio Berlusconi.

The 31-year-old Brazilian was carried off in tears after suffering the injury against Livorno on Wednesday and underwent surgery in Paris on Thursday.

"He fears for his career," Berlusconi told Italy's RAI TV.

"I called him last evening and told him to believe in himself. He has enormous physical potential."

Gerard Saillant, the surgeon who treated him for a similar injury to his right knee in 2000, oversaw the two-hour operation in France.

Asked if the forward would play again, Saillant said: "It will depend on him."

Earlier, Berlusconi said: "As a 31-year-old, he's very young.

"He has an extraordinary physique, and I think within a few months he could return to being the champion that we all know him as."

I don't want to say it's the end of his career because only time can decide
Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti

The striker faces nine months on the sidelines after rupturing a tendon in his left knee.

"I don't want to say it's the end of his career because only time can decide - all we can do is stand by him," said Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti.

Milan face Premier League leaders Arsenal in the first leg of their last 16 Champions League tie on Wednesday 21 February.

Ronaldo, who is out of contract at the end of the season, suffered the same injury in his right knee in November 1999.

He lasted seven minutes on his comeback in April 2000 before taking another 20 months to make a full recovery.

Ancelotti said the whole club was worried about the Brazilian, who was named Fifa world player of the year three times and is the record scorer in World Cup finals.

606: DEBATE

"We're all very sorry and worried about what happened to Ronaldo," Ancelotti added.

"Our players all left the stadium in a hurry to go to the hospital to check on his condition, I think that's the right way to stand by a player who's suffering."

Ronaldo fell awkwardly while challenging for a ball in the air with Jose Vidigal, shortly after replacing Alberto Gilardino in the second half.

"I heard a horrible sound, like a bang, it was a strange sound," said Livorno goalkeeper Marco Amelia, who was close by when Ronaldo fell to the ground.

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Extreme Skier Billy Poole Dies at 28 After Jumping Off Cliff for Documentary Film

Extreme skier Billy Poole died Tuesday of injuries sustained jumping off a cliff for a scene in a documentary film. He was 28. If you're not familiar with Poole or extreme skiing, here he is narrating one of his extreme skiing videos:

Poole's mother remembers him as a young man who quit his job as an engineer to do what he felt passionate about:
"He'd say that this was his life, and this was what he had chosen to do," Phyllis Erck said late Tuesday. "Of course I was terrified . . . but I respected his choice. I know he died doing what he loved."
Poole was performing a jump in Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah. The jump was supposed to be part of a Warren Miller Entertainment film.
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