The Mariners may have people talking about fathers, sons and grandsons, but baseball, we're reminded, is more truly the sport of siblings. Over the years we've had the Deans, the DiMaggios, the Alous, the Perrys. We've had the Aaron brothers. Had the Fabulous Boyer Boys. Have the Perezes, sort of. And now that the Dodgers are getting into the act, we must add the Martinez brothers (Ramon, Pedro and Jesus) and the Mimbs twins (Mike and Mark). Los Angeles: City of Brotherly Love.
It's not as if the Dodgers need to hire novelty acts—"Brothers who pitch together, on the next Oprah Winfrey Show!"—so you have to figure they're up to something beyond a tabloid lineup. But Dodgertown has been a strange place to take your cuts this spring. Is it possible the club could settle on just two families to provide its five-man rotation?
That's at least a few springs away. Of the live, only Ramon Martinez is likely to be with L.A. on Opening Day. Just 24, Ramon has won 37 games for the Dodgers in the past two seasons and has been their most effective pitcher. But do you know what they've been saying in Vero Beach this spring? They've been saying, You ain't seen nothin' yet. Pedro, 20, was in the big camp after a season in which he was named Minor League Player of the Year by The Sporting News after jumping from Class A in Bakersfield to the Dodgers' Triple A team in Albuquerque in one year. "Better breaking ball than Ramon," says Dodger scout Ralph Avila.
That's not the half of it. Actually, it's two thirds of it. Also in Vero Beach for the first time was Jesus, 18, in only his second season of pro ball. Avila, the man who signs up anybody named Martinez in the Dominican Republic, first noticed Jesus three years ago when he tagged along with Pedro to his first camp. Avila, already intrigued by the pedigree, soon had someone working with the 15-year-old Jesus and now projects that he will become the family power pitcher. "He's throwing 87, 88 miles per hour," Avila says. "Ramon never had that velocity at that age."
Avila has reason to be hopeful. By now he's familiar with the Martinez pattern of development, which is to start slow and skinny and become fast and less skinny. When' Ramon came to him at the age of 15, he was 6'3" and 135 pounds, with a fastball that would bounce off your finest china. Avila hoped he would put on a few lbs. and a few mph's. Wouldn't you know, Ramon gained 17 and 10 of them, respectively, and the Dodgers had themselves a phenom.
Watching the three brothers lope together in the outfield, you realize the Dodgers may soon have a very close-knit pitching staff. But, as they say in Vero, you ain't seen nothin' yet. Here come the Mimbs twins. Mark and Mike probably won't get beyond Double A San Antonio this year and may not have the combined firepower of the Martinez clan, but they've got a bond that makes those other brothers seem positively estranged. "Oh, we're pretty scary," admits Mark (could be Mike). When the 23-year-old identical twins were first separated, things did indeed get spooky. In different Class A leagues last year they each won 12 games and gave up 42 earned runs. On July 20, they had identical 2.26 ERAs.
"But the strangest thing," says Mike (could be Mark), "was August 1." Mark was mailing from Bakersfield, Mike from Vero Beach. And they sent their father identical birthday cards. "Very scary," says Mark (could be Mike).
This is a lot of fraternity for one outfit, and whether it adds up to anything beyond brotherhood is anybody's guess. But then, what's wrong with brotherhood?