NEW YORK -- Red Sox pitching legend Pedro Martinez, who visited the team Friday at Yankee Stadium, believes the 2013 edition of the team has a familiar look to it.
"It's very similar (to the championship team of 2004),'' said Martinez. "The two teams are very similar in that aspect -- everybody's loose, everybody's going along together, everybody's minding their own business when they have to. It's a very, very professional team. That's what you're seeing out there. Everybody 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 on the field. Off the field, you see that the behavior of those guys is different. I think, in that aspect, this team is even above the one in '04.''
Martinez, who serves as a player development consultant with the team, got an inkling in spring training that these Red Sox were determined to make this season special.
"I went to really early camp and guys beat me there -- (Clay) Buchholz, (Jon) Lester, (John) Lackey, (Felix) Doubront,'' said Martinez. "Everybody was there early. I think those guys had it in their heads before we got there. I saw them work. Early in camp, you (usually) don't find a guy in tip-top shape, right away.
"Doubront was a little bit later getting into shape than the other guys, but he's in great shape. He's throwing great. Everybody worked so hard to get better. David Ortiz. A lot of people don't realize what David had to do in spring training to come back. I'm extremely proud of all of them because they all worked their tails off to get back and do what they're doing.
"It's not a coincidence. It's the fact that they worked to get better and they did it.''
Martinez spoke in the spring about the disappointment he felt watching the team finish in last place in 2012. But he's a believer in this team.
"When I really (exhaled) a little bit was when I saw that nobody (else) made a big move at the deadline,'' said Martinez. "Because I knew the kind of team we have. I kept saying 'We're not big names. We're not the super team. But we're gamers.' That's what we have. And the gamers come out to play every single day.
"When I saw the whole team together in spring training, I thought 'We're going to surprise a lot of people.' That was my first thought. I don't expect them to be the front-line team. But at the same time, I thought that the team had good enough talent that, if we stayed healthy, we would surprise a lot of people and that's what happening right now.''
Martinez takes particular satisfaction in the progress shown by Drake Britton. Britton was arrested for DUI in Fort Myers, but Martinez made him a project and is thrilled with how far the rookie lefthander has come.
"As a baseball player, I've been there, I've done that,'' said Martinez. "Sometimes a lot of those young players, just because you make a mistake, we get punished. Sometimes, as young players, you don't really understand why they're doing what they're doing and what the organization expects out of you after that.
"I thought I saw a good man in Drake Britton. The time that I got to spend with him, I saw a good kid who just made a mistake and I was quick to notice that it was affecting him a little bit. I just wanted to point out that regardless of one mistake he made, I was supportive of him and I wanted him to be the special kid that I think he's going to be in the big leagues.
"I just showed some understanding towards him and his situation. That's the reason (the Red Sox) have us here -- because some of us can bring that experience and make sure that they understand clearly why things are happening and how they should act. He's done a great job.''
Martinez has watched Britton pitch with success out of the bullpen in his rookie season and noted: "I couldn't be prouder. It's like seeing a son out there. It's like you taught your son how to be a good man and he does something to make you proud. That's how I feel. I feel like I'm a father figure that played a little role -- a little role -- in the way he thinks.''