By MARC TOPKIN
© St. Petersburg Times, published June 20, 2001
ST. PETERSBURG -- Will he or won't he?
Better yet, should he?
Pedro Martinez said Tuesday the tender shoulder that forced him to miss his last start felt better, and he plans to start Thursday's game against the Rays.
"It feels good," Martinez said. "I'm ready to go Thursday."
But Rays manager Hal McRae, unaware that an official decision had been made, said he doubted the Red Sox would send their ace to the mound.
"Why risk it?" McRae said. "They're two games in front. If he goes down, they go down. Without him, there's no Boston."
McRae was asked if the same thing could not have been said about Sox star Nomar Garciaparra missing the first half of the season. "I didn't know how that was going to affect the club," McRae said. "We know how Pedro affects the club. That's been established."
Martinez has reason to want to be on the mound. He is 5-2 against the Rays with a 1.98 ERA overall, and in his past five starts he has struck out 65 Rays in 36 innings.