Pedro looking forward to return

Soler leads Mets to Boston

In this, the 20th anniversary year of the Mets' 1986 World Series championship, the team returns to Boston's Fenway Park for a three-game Interleague series beginning on Tuesday.

But it will be two rookies who were a combined nine years old in '86 who will take the mound for the opener, when the Mets send right-hander Alay Soler up against Red Sox left-hander Jon Lester.

But the game that will draw all the attention in this series is Wednesday night's contest, when Pedro Martinez makes his return to Fenway Park.

Not against his will, but clearly against his preference, Martinez will pitch against the Red Sox in the second game of the series. He hardly relishes the idea of facing Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz, not because of their considerable prowess, but because of friendship and the bond among the players who ended The Curse two years ago.

"We did something special together," Martinez said in Spring Training, when he had no chance of knowing he would be on the Fenway Park mound for an Interleague game in June. "They will be my special friends forever."

And even then, the thought of facing the remaining members of the '04 Curse Busters was unappealing.

"Guys don't to pitch to their teammates in intrasquad games in Spring Training," he said. "This is worse."

His sentiments hadn't changed by Sunday morning: "I'd love not to have to face them," is how he put it. "I'm a human being. They're my friends."

The return to Boston, where he pitched for seven summers and where he won two of this three Cy Young Awards, would be a fun experience, he said, if not for the Wednesday night assignment opposite Josh Beckett.

"I love going back to Boston," Martinez said. "I love going home, my home away from home."

Martinez still owns a home in Boston, though most of his belongings have been moved to his Connecticut residence. "I've got to put it on the market," he said.

He maintained the Boston home while "personal matters kept me in Boston."

"I like the city," he said.

And the city likes him. He expects to be well received.

"If they feel like I feel, great. If it's the opposite, I'll deal with it."

But why would the relationship change? Just because he left?

Martinez recalled the parade following the World Series victory, which he characterized as "mission accomplished."

"There were so many Dominican flags, it looked like winter ball," he said. "Not even the Dominican had so many."

He senses the affection hasn't diminished.

"I earned my money in Boston, every cent. And I earned it with fun," he says. "I still love them. I hope I have some time to sign some autographs."

Pitching matchup
NYM: RHP Alay Soler (2-1, 3.32 ERA)
The Sox can't know much about him. That's to his advantage. Know this: His ERA away from Shea is 0.56.

BOS: LHP Jon Lester (2-0, 2.76 ERA)
He has yet to allow a home run in 16 1/3 innings, 10 1/3 of them at Fenway.

Player to watch
Carlos Beltran has a .320 batting average in 25 career at-bats at Fenway.

Interleague by the numbers
All-time record vs. Red Sox: 8-7
All-time club Interleague records: 82-78 overall, 62-56 vs. AL East

On the Internet
Gameday Audio
Official game notes

On television

On radio
• WFAN 660 AM, WADO 1280 AM (Español)

Up next
• Wednesday: Mets (RHP Pedro Martinez, 6-3, 3.01) at Red Sox (RHP Josh Beckett, 8-3, 5.09), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Thursday: Mets (LHP Tom Glavine, 11-2, 3.33) at Red Sox (RHP Curt Schilling, 9-2, 3.55), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Friday: Mets (RHP Orlando Hernandez, 4-7, 5.82) at Yankees (RHP Mike Mussina, 9-3, 3.28), 7:05 p.m. ET

Marty Noble is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.