NEW YORK -- The Red Sox's clubhouse was relatively quiet during the pregame hours on Friday afternoon, and then an old face popped in, bubbling over with enthusiasm.
"Where is David [Ortiz]?" bellowed Pedro Martinez, before putting a shopping bag in the slugger's locker.
Though he hasn't thrown a pitch for the Red Sox in nine years, Martinez is beaming with pride at the success of his team, the one he started working for again over the past year as a special assistant to general manager Ben Cherington.
To Martinez, it is not an exaggeration to compare this Boston team to the one he won his only World Series ring with in 2004.
"Very similar," Martinez said. "The two teams are very similar in that aspect. Everybody's loose, everybody's going along together, everybody's minding their own business at the time they have to. A very, very professional team. That's what you're seeing out there. Everyone out there is trying to look as professional as they can, and they're trying to do it the right way.
"And it's not only in the field. Off the field, you see that the behavior of those guys is different."
Considering that the fabled 2004 team has always been lauded for its chemistry and camaraderie, it's telling that Martinez thinks this Boston team might even have an edge in those departments.
"I think in that aspect I think this team is even above the one in '04, because this team is it's not only in the field that they really, really control what they do, but also away from the field, they have been doing a great job and I hope that they continue to do well," Martinez said.
Perhaps the 2004 team had some bigger names, including Martinez, Curt Schilling, Manny Ramirez in addition to Big Papi. But this year's team, Martinez surmises, makes up for it in other areas.
"I keep saying, we're not big names, we're not the super team, but we're gamers," said Martinez. "That's what we have -- a whole bunch of gamers. And the gamers come out to play every single day. When I saw that in Spring Training and I saw the whole team together, I thought, 'We're going to surprise a lot of people.' That was my first thought. I didn't expect them to be the frontline team, but at the same time, I thought that the team had good enough talent, if we stay healthy, to actually surprise a lot of people. That's what's happening right now."
Martinez also knows not to count out the Yankees.
"I think they could [make the postseason]," Martinez said. "They have plenty of chances. They have plenty of time to actually make it. I wouldn't take them lightly. I think the injuries messed up the Yankees, big-time, the whole year. As you see it now, they're all playing together and healthy, and it seems like everything is clicking for them. Of course, I don't want them to play as well as they have the last few games, but it's just a matter of being healthy."