If Luis Severino is one day fortunate enough to stand behind a podium and address a crowd on some hot summer afternoon in Cooperstown, he’ll be sure to thank former Boston Red Sox ace Pedro Martinez for helping him craft a Cy Young-caliber arsenal, comprised of celerity and deception.
But Martinez isn’t the only Boston legend who’s mentored Severino.
It turns out that the Yankees’ longtime foe also deserves some credit for the 24-year-old right-hander’s resurgence in the majors.
According to a recent story written by Scott Miller of Bleacher Report, former Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz helped Severino arrange that first meeting with the Hall-of-Famer in the Dominican Republic two winters ago.
Per Bleacher Report:
“Let me tell you how this game goes,” Ortiz said. “People sometimes get mad about you helping a kid, but it doesn’t matter where he plays. No, no, no. Baseball is a fraternity. We are not worried about who is going to be who. We are more worried about getting the game better. I have recommended so many guys to Pedro; I couldn’t even tell you.”
“I see pitchers from the Dominican; you need to work on this — go to Pedro,” Ortiz said. “Severino was one of those guys. We saw the talent that he has. We don’t focus on him pitching for the Yankees. We saw a great Dominican kid with talent, and we helped. Just like Pedro had done it with tons of guys from so many different organizations.
“That’s Pedro, man. That’s who Pedro is. I am like that, too.”
“Big Papi … told me, ‘I can see what he’s doing. I can see the ball. He’s exposing the ball,'” Martinez said. “Big Papi said, ‘I want you to help this kid. I’ve gotten to know him, and he’s a good kid.'”
Naturally, Red Sox fans aren’t too thrilled that Martinez has assisted Severino on a number of occasions. But Martinez explained to Boston’s WEEI Radio back in February that his relationship with Severino goes well beyond the storied rivalry:
“Our duty as retired players and players that have been through the game and had some success in the game is to pass along what we learned, how we did it, how it worked for us, just in case it works for them,” Martinez said. “And Severino is one special guy, because Severino ever since he signed, the picture he had was my baseball card hanging on his locker all over.
‘”The video he would look at on his phone was my video, every single day. I was his idol because he was young and he got to see me actually in my prime and I was the one he fell in love with. He didn’t know he was going to sign with the Yankees when he was watching me.
“So, he fell in love before he signed with the Yankees and as he became a Yankee, he wanted to do things like me. As a matter of fact, it must be great to be good because the little things that I relayed to Severino, who deserved all the credit, it seems like are falling to me. But in reality, it’s Severino doing it and adjusting to little things I thought I could correct.”
To the Yankees’ delight, those corrections and adjustments have paid huge dividends. In 20 starts this season, Severino owns a league-leading 14 wins, and his 2.31 ERA ranks fifth in the American League. He’s also seventh in the majors with 144 strikeouts and on pace to finish the campaign with a career-high 218.1 innings pitched.
With those first-half numbers, Severino represented the Yankees in the All-Star Game for a second consecutive year. On Tuesday in Washington, D.C., he tossed a scoreless frame and struck out Nationals slugger and Home Run Derby champion Bryce Harper.
“Severino is maturing in front of our eyes,” Martinez said on Twitter back in May. “He has all the tools to become the best pitcher in the Big Leagues.”
Severino is scheduled to start on Monday against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field.