ARLINGTON, Texas — J.D. Martinez wants to remain with the Red Sox beyond this year. The designated hitter, who is a pending free agent, made that clear Sunday morning ahead of his team’s series finale with the Rangers.
“Yeah,” Martinez responded when asked if he would be open to an extension with the Sox. “I was really open to it after 2019 and nothing happened. And I feel like nothing has really happened since I’ve been here, so, I have to take care of me and look to the future.”
When the Red Sox acquired Kyle Schwarber at the trade deadline last year, it was easy to presume he would be the replacement once Martinez hit the free agent market following the 2022 season. Schwarber’s age, 29, and his power-hitting lefty bat certainly made him an intriguing case over Martinez, who will be 35 in August. But when the Sox couldn’t come to an agreement with Schwarber, who ultimately chose the Phillies, that left the door cracked for Martinez.
Now, though, Martinez will have a variety of options with the implementation of the universal DH this season, only boosting his market value.
“I’m excited to have double the teams to choose from,” Martinez said.
Martinez is off to a hot start. He extended his hitting streak to 16 games Sunday, going 1 for 4 in the Sox’ 7-1 loss to the Rangers. He has a 32-game on-base streak dating back to last September. He ended the day hitting .314/.365/.533 with four homers. Martinez is obsessed with the process of hitting, and is a presence both in the clubhouse and in the lineup for the Sox.
“He’s been so consistent since 2018,” manager Alex Cora said. “He’s really good and even when he’s feeling bad [at the plate], he puts together competitive at-bats. Now that he’s taking his walks, he’s becoming more dangerous. He’s a guy that since Day 1 when we got him, it just changed the whole complexion of the lineup. I still remember his first batting practice. When he signed. We were like, ‘Wow, this is a guy.’ This is the guy we needed.”
Martinez is friends with Nelson Cruz, and during one offseason asked how he remains so consistent despite being one of the elder statesmen in the game (Cruz is 41). Now, to some degree, Martinez is included in that group. How does he do it?
“I consume myself with the process and not the results,” Martinez said. “That’s how I stay sane. I’m just worried about who’s pitching next and what’s going on next. That’s just the way my brain processes it all.”
The Sox will have some decisions to make. And if both Xander Bogaerts, who has an opt-out at the end of this year, and Martinez land elsewhere, there will be a serious hole in the meat of the order. One that likely couldn’t be replaced.
“Would I love to stay here? Yeah. I’ve expressed that to ownership,” Martinez said. “We’ll see. Everybody’s got their own stuff that they’re doing now. Doing what they believe in, so it is what it is.”
Wacha gets in some work
Michael Wacha (left intercostal irritation) threw a bullpen session Saturday. He’s scheduled to throw a simulated game Monday.
The team still has no update on Chris Sale (right rib cage fracture) or James Paxton (Tommy John surgery), who still aren’t throwing. Both had setbacks, but Sale’s wasn’t related to his injury, and the team described it as a non-baseball medical issue.
Verdugo back in lineup
Alex Verdugo returned and batted seventh after missing Saturday’s game with a right foot contusion. Verdugo went 0 for 4 . . . Connor Seabold pitched six scoreless innings, striking out 11 for Triple A Worcester in a 7-4 loss to Rochester at Polar Park . . . Marcelo Mayer, the Sox’ top draft pick in 2021, was 3 for 6 with three doubles for Single-A Salem (8-7 loss at Delmarva in 11 innings) after being sidelined with wrist soreness . . . The Sox welcome the Astros to town for a three-game set beginning Monday at Fenway Park. Garrett Whitlock will take the mound against Jake Odorizzi. Tuesday’s matchup will be Nate Eovaldi vs. Jose Urquidy. and Wednesday will be Nick Pivetta vs. Luis Garcia.