One of the few good stories in baseball occurred this week when Ken Griffey Jr. signed with Seattle, returning to the city where he began his Major League career as a 19-year-old phenom two decades ago.
Seeing that Pedro Martinez still needs a job, the Dodgers could do worse than signing him to a one-year deal. Martinez spent parts of his first two big-league seasons with the Dodgers, so the reunion wouldn't be nearly as nostalglic as Griffey going back to the Pacific Northwest. But seeing Pedro in Dodger blue would certainly be a Hollywood ending.
Sentimentality aside, having Martinez around some of the young pitchers would be beneficial. It would be like having a second pitching coach. He could have a long chat with Chad Billingsley, who did not retaliate after Philadelphia pitcher Brett Myers threw a pitch behind Manny Ramirez and knocked down Russell Martin in Game 2 of the NLCS last October.
Martinez once vowed he would never pitch for the Dodgers. He was still bitter that former Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda and others in the organization thought he was too small to be a starting pitcher and subsequently traded him to Montreal for second baseman Delino DeShields after the 1993 season. He's always used the slight as motivation.
After recording his 2,000th career strikeout pitching for the Red Sox in 2002, Martinez sarcastically said, "That's a huge milestone for a guy who couldn't pitch five innings as a starter."
Seven years later and clearly in the twilight of his brilliant career, the once-wiry Martinez would still have to prove to the Dodgers that he can go five every time he took the mound. He has gone on the disabled list each of the past three seasons, spending most of 2007 recovering from rotator-cuff surgery.
In 20 starts with the Mets last season, Martinez pitched at least five innings in 16 of his 20 starts. He probably has as good a chance to stay healthy as Jason Schmidt, who is currently penciled in as the Dodgers No. 5 starter.