Segui raises P. Martinez's arm, not ire

Once Expos teammates, first baseman confronts pitcher -- with advice

March 15, 2004|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

FORT MYERS, Fla. - From a distance, it looked like Pedro Martinez was about to have another on-field confrontation yesterday, this time with Orioles first baseman David Segui playing the role of Don Zimmer.

Martinez and Segui exchanged words in the infield after the second inning of the Orioles' 5-2 loss to the Boston Red Sox at City of Palms Park. But it turns out, the two are good friends, and Segui was just giving Martinez a little pitching advice.

Ah, the joys of spring training. If anyone needed a reminder that this game didn't count, this was it.

Martinez had a poor outing, and Orioles starting pitcher Sidney Ponson was even worse. Good thing for both of them, they have weeks to prepare for the real thing.

In a pitching matchup that offered a preview of the April 4 season opener at Camden Yards, Martinez needed 41 pitches to get through a laborious second inning.

As he walked off the mound, he turned toward Segui, who was on his way back to the first base dugout from third base. They each said something, and then Martinez punctuated the moment in his own bizarre way, briefly wiggling his hips as if he were trying a new dance move.

"Segui told me to raise my arm up," Martinez said. "I was flying under the ball a little bit on some pitches, and he told me to get it up. Segui knows me really well. He's somebody that really cares. That shows me a lot - I really appreciate it."

Martinez was the focus of a national firestorm when he tossed Zimmer, 72, to the ground during an ugly confrontation in last year's American League Championship Series. Zimmer, then the New York Yankees bench coach, had charged at Martinez in anger for throwing a pitch at Karim Garcia.

Yesterday, it was all in fun. Segui and Martinez were teammates with the Montreal Expos from 1995 to 1997, and that last year was the one Martinez won the National League Cy Young Award.

So when Martinez walked Segui and two other batters in the second inning, Segui knew something was wrong. When he figured it out, he decided to tell his friend about it.

"I'm not telling him during the season," Segui said.

In his second start of the spring, Martinez allowed one run on two hits and three walks in two innings. The Orioles had a 1-0 lead when he came out of the game.

But Ponson gave up two bases-empty home runs in the third inning, one to Johnny Damon and one to David Ortiz, as the Red Sox grabbed a 2-1 lead. Then in the third, Ponson walked the first two batters after throwing his first seven pitches for balls.

After Ponson issued his third walk of the inning, Orioles pitching coach Mark Wiley pulled him from the game. Ponson was charged with five runs on five hits and four walks. He was supposed to pitch five innings, but only lasted 3 1/3 , and this was against a Red Sox lineup that did not include Nomar Garciaparra, Trot Nixon and the reigning American League batting champion, Bill Mueller.

In three spring starts, Ponson's ERA is 8.00.

Asked if he and Martinez were purposely trying not to show the other team their best stuff three weeks before the season opener, Ponson said, "If I did, I didn't do it on purpose. I went out there and tried to do my best. But the bottom line is you throw the ball down the middle, you're going to get hit."

Ponson and Martinez will both have three more exhibition starts to right themselves. Martinez was in good spirits yesterday, saying his control problems were the result of having too much arm strength. He threw 54 pitches, and Ponson threw 79.

Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli said he thought the strike zone was a little tight for Ponson, and so did Orioles catcher Javy Lopez.

"We thought some pitches were right there," Mazzilli said. "A club like this, you can't throw the ball over the plate. I thought [Ponson] threw the ball well, I really did."

For his career, Ponson is 1-9 with a 6.56 ERA against Red Sox, and this didn't do much for his confidence. Then again, he said everything changes April 4.

"You're going to have more adrenaline," Ponson said. "Everybody's going to be pumped up for the season. The season starts, and the war starts, 162 games. Guys are going to come pumped up."

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