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Pirates Pursuing Ramon Martinez

April 8, 2001

PITTSBURGH (AP) _ The Pittsburgh Pirates are pursuing free-agent right-hander Ramon Martinez and want to sign the former Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher within the next few days.

Pirates general manager Cam Bonifay said on his weekly radio show Sunday he was ``optimistic″ about signing Martinez, released last month after Eric Gagne beat him out to be the Dodgers’ No. 5 starter.

If the Pirates sign Martinez, Bonifay said he should be ready to move into the rotation by the end of the week. The Reds, Yankees and Rangers also have shown interest in Martinez, who apparently wants to pitch in the National League.

The 33-year-old Martinez was 0-3 with a 5.83 ERA in six spring appearances with the Dodgers, who gave him $368,853 in termination pay when he was released. His one-year contract was worth $1.5 million, with incentives that could have elevated the total value to $5 million.

Martinez, 135-86 with a 3.62 ERA in 13 major league seasons, had rotator cuff surgery in June 1998 and didn’t pitch again until September 1999.

Martinez was 10-8 with a 6.13 ERA last season with Boston, pitching alongside Cy Young Award-winning brother Pedro Martinez, before signing with the Dodgers.

The Pirates currently are without injured starting pitchers Kris Benson, Jason Schmidt, Francisco Cordova and Terry Mulholland. With the shortage of pitchers, rookie left-hander Joe Beimel made his major league debut by starting Sunday in Houston.

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