It wasn’t too long ago that Red Sox fans were bracing for JD Martinez to be the position player version of David Price, as the “diva” label was being tossed around.
By virtue of Martinez and his agent Scott Boras trying to milk every last dollar out of the Sox in free agency – and the Sox mostly holding firm throughout the winter – Martinez was painted as something of a potential problem child heading into the season.
Martinez went hitless in his first two games, and he didn’t have his first home run until April 7. While the boo birds at Fenway weren’t exactly getting on Martinez’s case at that point (the Sox’ quick start overall helped as well), the pressure was on the 30-year-old to start delivering power numbers.
Since then, boy has Martinez delivered.
Martinez finished April with five home runs and 22 RBI, and so far in May he has a whopping 12 dingers to go along with 22 RBI.
“I go back to that meeting in Orlando (this past winter), and the way he talked about baseball and how much he cares about the game, I came out of that meeting and was like – he’s gonna be fine in Boston,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “It’s baseball every day, the whole day for him. Between working on his swing, and watching video and taking notes and everything – it’s his passion. And as we know, (Boston) is a passionate sports town. They’re passionate about our organization and our team.”
Martinez’s first multi-homer game with the Sox came on May 20 against Baltimore at Fenway – as he wrapped the first one around Pesky’s Pole and then later belted a 443-foot shot beyond the center field triangle.
“My teammates were making me laugh,” Martinez said about the “weak” first homer of the day (via the Associated Press). “I said, ‘I’ve got to get even for some of the ones I hit in April when it was cold out and I thought I crushed some and they weren’t even going anywhere.’ They were definitely teasing me, but I’ll take it.”
Martinez, who has seen some time hitting in the No. 3 spot in the past few days following the dismissal of Hanley Ramirez, cracked his 17th homer of the season on Memorial Day Monday to give the Sox an 8-3 victory over Toronto. He is now tied for second place with teammate Mookie Betts in MLB home runs this season with 17. The Angels’ Mike Trout now leads the pack with 18 on the year.
What’s on tap?
The Sox will conclude their series with the Blue Jays today at Fenway (1 p.m., NESN) with Eduardo Rodriguez (5-1, 4.02 ERA) slated to get the ball. Rodriguez is coming off of back-to-back wins in which he allowed a combined total of just two earned runs. Sam Gaviglio (2-0, 2.30 ERA) is set to get the start for the Jays.
The Sox will then start a huge four game series against the defending World Series champion Astros on Thursday in Houston.