Randolph: Yankees not Pedro's daddy

NEW YORK – Go ahead and erase the transcript from September's postgame press conference at Fenway Park, when Pedro Martinez spoke as if he and the Yankees had familial relations.

Willie Randolph, who likely snickered as a Yankees coach last season when Martinez famously tipped his cap and wished the Bombers "would just go away and not come back," already has.

"The Yankees are not Pedro's daddy," Randolph said Sunday, hours before Martinez was scheduled to take the mound in the Subway Series finale. "I mean, really. All those games he pitched against us were tough games.

"All the guys came back to the dugout after those at-bats were not thinking they had his number. They were very tough at-bats, very tough games and they didn't look forward to facing him."

Perhaps not, but results speak for themselves. Martinez has been greatly successful for the majority of this season with the Mets, getting out to a 4-1 start and rocketing to the top of the NL strikeout board with 67 punch-outs in 56 innings.

But it's still the Yankees who continue to linger in Pedro's past, his 1-2 record and 4.72 ERA in six postseason appearances against the Bombers hanging around like a bad dream.

In seven years with Boston, Martinez never fared all that much better against New York during the April through September months, either – Pedro made 27 regular-season starts against the Yankees, going 9-10 with a 3.30 ERA.

The next test comes Sunday afternoon at Shea Stadium, when Martinez will try to shake that Yankees hex and begin a new tomorrow as a born-again National League hurler (Martinez defeated the Yankees once as a member of the Montreal Expos).

He'll also, perhaps, be healthy for the first time in two or three starts. Martinez experienced difficulty pushing off the rubber in his previous two starts against the Brewers and Cardinals, allowing a combined nine runs and four home runs, but a cortisone shot and Martinez's accompanying bullpen session on Thursday was graded a pass with flying colors.

Martinez also watched the Yankees in his usual studious manner on Saturday as Kris Benson broke down the Bombers for six innings. That helps Randolph, for one, to expect a classic performance out of his ace Sunday.

"The Yankees are going to go after him," Randolph said. "That's why we were so successful against him. But believe me, it was no cakewalk, and that's the truth. He's still tough."

MR. KOO, PART DEUX: Randolph was still raving about the performance of Korean reliever Dae-Sung Koo on Sunday morning. Koo doubled in the seventh inning Saturday off Randy Johnson and came around to score on a daring baserunning play in which he beat catcher Jorge Posada to the plate.

For the first time this season, Randolph seemed to speak of Koo in an almost glowing manner – not a bad turnaround for a pitcher who was dropped into the bullpen almost by obligation during spring training and had been whispered as a candidate for demotion or release, especially when lefty Royce Ring briefly appeared with the club.

"I think of Koo as a guy who's very new and fresh to the situation," Randolph said. "The quicker he gets acclimated to [the Mets], in the long run, we'll find out a lot of things he can do for us."

SIGHTS AND SOUNDS: The phone rang in the Mets clubhouse early Sunday morning. It wasn't necessarily the caller – a stadium worker – that made this particular event notable.

It was the answer from Mike Cameron, delivered with the efficiency of someone who's made a few late-night calls for delivery.

"Domino's Pizza," Cameron said. "Our special today is two large for $15.99. Can I help you please?"

NOTES, QUOTES: Carlos Beltran (strained right quad) and Kazuo Matsui (strained right trapezius) were held out of the starting lineup Sunday, as expected. … Randolph said that he briefly considered playing Marlon Anderson at second base and Miguel Cairo in right field, but wanted to put his best defensive squad on the field for Martinez's start.

Contact Bryan Hoch at metsinsidepitch@aol.com.

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