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THE BALTIMORE SUN

P. Martinez takes shot at Sox; remarks don't bother Epstein

Pedro Martinez returned home to the Dominican Republic yesterday and bashed the team he led to a World Series title. He knocked the Boston Red Sox for their front office moves and negotiating tactics, and predicted that a rough season awaits.

"They will field the best bad team in baseball history," Martinez said at a news conference.

One day after he was introduced by the New York Mets - who signed him to a four-year, $53 million contract - Martinez criticized the Red Sox for firing key employees, including team doctor Bill Morgan.

Martinez said he was "dumbfounded" to hear that fellow Dominican Manny Ramirez could be mentioned as possible trade bait after winning the World Series Most Valuable Player award.

"After giving seven great years, Jason Varitek, Derek Lowe and I were not signed," Martinez said.

The three-time Cy Young Award winner said the Mets "have shown more respect in days than Boston did in seven years."

Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein discounted the comments, and said yesterday that Martinez is "a brilliant pitcher ... an emotional person as well."

"It doesn't bother me," Epstein said. "I don't necessarily define myself by what anyone says about me, let alone a player that we just didn't sign to bring back to Boston. We'll be fine as an organization. I just don't put much stock in that. It's a heat-of-the-moment-type thing. I choose to look at the man, not one comment."

Meanwhile yesterday, Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling denied he ever said Martinez received "preferential treatment," as had been reported in some media outlets.

But Schilling was strong in his conviction that Martinez did march to his own drummer, saying, "He did what he wanted, when he wanted."

College football Report: Cavanaugh contacted by Pittsburgh

Ravens offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh has been contacted by Pittsburgh about its head coaching job but is not considered the front-runner, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune Review. Cavanaugh, who was Most Valuable Player of the Sugar Bowl when the Panthers won the national championship in 1976, declined to comment. Pittsburgh defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads, who has received strong support from the players, is emerging as the front-runner and interviewed Thursday, the Tribune Review said. Oklahoma co-defensive coordinator Bo Pelini also is considered a candidate.

Mississippi: New coach Ed Orgeron was charged with repeated domestic violence 13 years ago when he was an assistant at Miami, according to records obtained by the Associated Press. Background checks were conducted on Orgeron and other candidates, chancellor Robert Khayat said at a news conference introducing Orgeron as the Rebels' coach. Athletic director Pete Boone said school officials are aware of the coach's history. "Many years ago coach Orgeron had a very unpleasant experience that involved behavior he is not proud of," Khayat said at Thursday's news conference. "Pete Boone, the athletics committee and I are totally comfortable and confident that Coach Orgeron is going to provide the kind of role model that we want for our program."

Indiana: Miami of Ohio's Terry Hoeppner was hired as coach and vowed to take the Hoosiers to the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1968. Hoeppner, 48-23 in six seasons at Miami, takes over a team with 10 straight losing seasons.

California: The San Francisco Police Department decided to drop weapons charges against receiver David Gray, who was arrested last week after a fight outside a nightclub.

Obituary: Former Washington State coach Robert "Bert" Clark Jr., whose 1965 "Cardiac Kids" beat three Big Ten teams on the road, died Monday in Katy, Texas. He was 74.

College basketball Fofana considering Loyola, other schools

Loyola is one of the schools being considered by Hassan Fofana, the 6-foot-10 sophomore center who decided to transfer from Maryland last week, a source familiar with the situation said. If Fofana enrolls at a school in time for the spring semester, he would be eligible to play the second half of next season. Loyola is coached by Jimmy Patsos, a former Maryland assistant who was instrumental in recruiting Fofana to College Park.

RPI: The NCAA Division I men's basketball committee is changing the way it calculates the Rating Percentage Index, giving more weight to playing and winning games on the road.

Winter sports

Bertuzzi reportedly close to plea bargain

Vancouver Canucks star Todd Bertuzzi is on the verge of a plea bargain involving the assault charge he faces for sucker-punching Colorado Avalanche forward Steve Moore earlier this year, the Vancouver Province reported.

Figure skating: World champion Evgeni Plushenko and Irina Slutskaya won short programs in Beijing, giving Russian skaters the lead at the Grand Prix Final.

Skiing: American Bode Miller finished fourth in a World Cup super-G in Val Gardena, Italy, maintaining his lead in the overall standings.

Et Cetera

Fox College to show 2 UM lacrosse games

Two Maryland men's lacrosse games will be televised nationally by Fox College Sports - one against Johns Hopkins on April 15 and the other to be announced.

High school football: Baltimore's Davon Cook rushed for 1,460 yards and scored 24 touchdowns to help lead the Maryland School for the Deaf (10-0) to its second consecutive national championship.

OVERHEARD

"If you create Frankenstein, you can't be real surprised if he eats the village."

STEVE STONE, former Cubs broadcaster, on the team's permissive attitude toward star outfielder Sammy Sosa

THE FLIP SIDE

Phone problems

Tonight Show host Jay Leno offered this sensitive take on the Kobe Bryant-Karl Malone controversy: "Tough night for Kobe Bryant. Not only did the Lakers lose last night in Seattle, when Kobe called home, Karl Malone answered."

WHAT TO WATCH Pro football Steelers at Giants

If Kyle Boller can earn AFC Player of the Week against the Giants, imagine the show Ben Roethlisberger can put on. 1:30 p.m., chs. 13, 9

THE QUIZ

Power shift: Free agent Adrian Beltre, who signed with the Mariners yesterday, led the major leagues in home runs last season with 48 for the Dodgers. Who holds Seattle's single-season record? Answer, 8C

Good Morning

NICK SABAN Do you really want to consider leaving the Southern hospitality of LSU for a place where fans booed Don Shula?

Quiz answer

Ken Griffey, with 56 in 1997 and 1998.

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