Notes and Quotes: March 30

Martinez and Sox involved in talks.

Boston and their ace begin to lay the groundwork for a new contract, Nomar continues to hope, and Mendoza impresses. Also, other notes and quotes surrounding the Red Sox organization as Opening Day in Baltimore fast approaches.

-- RHP Pedro Martinez and his agent met with club officials, including owner John Henry, in preliminary negotiations on a new contract. According to reports, no numbers were exchanged.

-- SS Nomar Garciaparra sounded notes of optimism regarding his recovery from mild Achilles tendonitis in his right heel. The shortstop began taking batting practice and playing catch last week and no longer wears the boot that protected his heel for about a week. "I think I'm on track. It feels like I'm on track," he told reporters in Fort Myers.

-- RHP Ramiro Mendoza finally made his spring debut Thursday (March 25) and impressed with a three-up, three-down inning. If he continues to perform well in the waning days of camp, there's a chance that he could begin the season in Boston, though the disabled list remains a likelihood for the maiden days of the season. Even if he does not begin the year with the club, however, it appears almost certain that he will soon find himself in Boston.

"I know he's had tremendous success at the major league level in the same kind of atmosphere [as Boston]," Francona told reporters. "Regardless of what happened last year, we owe it to ourselves, we owe it to him, we owe it to the organization to try to get him back for what he was brought in to do."

-- INF/OF Tony Womack was swapped to the Cardinals in exchange for minor league RHP Matt Duff. In his minor league career, Duff has racked up a 35-27 record and 2.96 ERA while averaging 10.0 strikeouts per nine innings. Duff appeared in seven big-league games for the Cards in 2002.

-- C Michel Hernandez was claimed by the Phillies after the Sox put him on waivers. LHP Nick Bierbrodt refused a minor league assignment and instead opted for free agency.

By The Numbers:
.263 -- Batting average of left-handed hitters against Alan Embree last year, in contrast to a .221 mark by righties. Those numbers suggest that the Sox could be in trouble without a lefty specialist, yet those odd splits appear to be an aberration. In his career, Embree has nearly reversed the two numbers, permitting lefties just a .227 career average and righties a .262 mark.

Quote to Note:
"If I ever feel like I can't compete, or I can't put up the numbers I've been putting up or somewhere near, I'll just pack my cleats and go home, give my cleats to my nephews and start playing catch with them. At this point, if you look at the last two years, why would I worry about velocity? Why would I worry about anything at all? I'm still No. 1 on top of a lot of good guys that we have on this team. They have me as the ace." -- Pedro Martinez, responding to questions about his velocity this spring.

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