He may not have hit a home run as a Red Sock yet, but I’m already happy that JD Martinez is heir apparent to David Ortiz’s throne. Why? Let me count the ways:
1. He’s humble
Back in the winter, amidst the negotiation drama and free agent stalemate, I was pretty hard on JD Martinez. Looking back now, I took my stress out on him, when really, I should’ve been directing my vitriol towards his psycho-agent Scott Boras, who likes to hold the balls of MLB clubs in his vice grip. Martinez genuinely loves baseball, and he just wants to play the game.
Now that he’s at Spring Training, Martinez acknowledges that he’s gotten off to a slower start than he’d like. But unlike some of his new teammates, he’s not complaining. He’s owning it, saying his body is starting to get used to the grind, and he’s ready to do his part.
2. He’s hardworking
Apparently, Martinez is seriously studious, constantly reviewing tape of opposing pitchers as well as his own at-bats, even batting practices. He was known in Arizona for keeping “copious notes in an old-fashioned notebook” (per WEEI) and it while his uniform has changed, it seems as though his work ethic remains as locked in as ever.
Even though everyone knows he’s being paid beaucoup bucks for his bat power, Martinez has still made it clear that he’s ready to play the field, too. He played right in yesterday’s win over the Rays, and said that he and Cora have a plan for him to play the outfield on occasion to give the ‘Win, Dance, Repeat’ squad more rest time. Martinez only made 4 errors in 113 games between two teams last season, an impressively low stat.
3. He’s contributing in more ways than one
In yesterday’s game alone, Martinez had 3 RBIs. I know that we’re in this age of juiced balls and super-sluggers, but a run scored is a run on the board. The Red Sox had a serious lack of RBIs and homers last year, and Martinez hit 45 homers with 104 RBIs. He’s starting to get comfortable here, currently batting .276, and I think he’ll play a huge role in getting the team numbers up. The Red Sox finished 9th in home runs in 2016, but after David Ortiz retired, they dropped down to an embarrassing 27th in 2017, and last in the American League in that category.
His ambitious ways are even rubbing off on his teammates, who are following his lead and studying up on their opponents. Manager Cora says he’s “very happy with JD, and not only that… what he’s bringing to the clubhouse.” An influx of iPads and more studying. The chicken and beer days are long gone, and good riddance.
4. He has his predecessor’s approval
David Ortiz spoke highly of Martinez before they even worked together at Spring Training, and apparently, he’s only grown more confident in the team’s newest member since. After heading to JetBlue Park to mentor his new Padawan, Boston’s Grand Jedi Master of home runs told Buster Olney, “it’s gonna work out perfectly… he’s gonna be a perfect fit for the Red Sox… JD Martinez is gonna be the main key for that power to back into the lineup.”
He also told Omnisport, “I’m very excited about this season… I wish I could still play with him.” My God. Can you imagine those two in the middle of the lineup? Judge and Stanton who?
Big Papi has spoken. Fin.
Photo: Red Sox twitter