CHICAGO — The Red Sox gave J.D. Martinez a day off in the series finale Sunday against the Cubs.
“We have to give the big guy a breather,” manager Alex Cora said prior to Boston’s 4-2 win in 11 innings. “We had a day game today, day game Monday, we have to give him a chance to reset. He does so much in between games and during the game, so sometimes he needs a breather.”
The physical and mental breather might be worth it for Martinez, who is hitting .218/.304/.364 since May 31. Martinez has just a .668 OPS in that 28-game span. Martinez has gone 75 plate appearances without a homer.
“He hasn’t felt great throughout,” Cora continued. “At one point in the season he was hitting a lot of balls hard the opposite way. He hit a few balls in the air on the West Coast trip. It’s one of those things where he keeps fighting his mechanics and is trying to get locked in with his mechanics.”
Despite the recent skid, Martinez is still having a productive year, batting .307/.377/.487 with eight homers and an .864 OPS.
“He’s going to start hitting home runs,” Cora said. “They come in bunches. He’s having a great season, hitting the ball hard. It’s just a matter of time.”
Cora offers his sympathy
Cora opened his morning news conference with condolences to Blue Jays first base coach Mark Budzinski, whose eldest daughter, Julia, died Saturday at just 17 years old, the team announced Sunday.
“It puts everything in perspective,” Cora said. “It’s a terrible way to get us back to reality, but thoughts and prayers. I know it’s a tough time for him and the organization and everybody involved.”
Tigers manager A.J. Hinch, who roomed with Budzinski in the minors, also offered his condolences. The Blue Jays observed a moment of silence prior to their matchup against the Rays at Rogers Centre.
Richmond television station WTVR reported Julia Budzinski died in a tubing accident, citing sources who said she fell from her tube into the James River.
In defense of Wrigley
Cubs manager David Ross took the high road when asked about the comments Red Sox rookie righthander Josh Winckowski made on Saturday night about Wrigley Field.
Winckowski said the historic ballpark was “underwhelming” and didn’t have the same presence as Fenway Park.
“Stock standard if you ask me,” Winckowski said. “Kind of just felt like another ballpark.”
Ross smiled when asked to respond.
“My experience in both parks is very amazing,” he said. “Fenway is the same way, historic. You walk into it, like here — beautiful park, a lot of history there. Very similar in both ways from my vantage point. Two amazing ballparks and great places to play.”
As for Winckowski, Ross praised him as a “pretty good pitcher” after allowing one earned run over six innings in a game the Cubs won, 3-1.
On the mend
Kiké Hernández (right hip flexor strain) took batting practice Saturday. Hernández could go on a rehab assignment Friday or Saturday . . . Garrett Whitlock (right hip inflammation) came out of Saturday’s bullpen and pitchers’ fielding practice in good shape. Whitlock will use Sunday and Monday as rest days and throw another bullpen Tuesday . . . Nate Eovaldi (hip/back tightness) will throw an up-and-down bullpen Tuesday . . . Josh Taylor (back strain) allowed two runs on three hits, including one homer, in his rehab outing for Portland Saturday. The results and stuff have to be better before the Red Sox consider activating Taylor. “He needs the repetitions,” Cora said. “There’s a lot of repetitions that he has to take to get to who he is. So you just have to be patient. He’s been very patient throughout the process, and we’ll keep trying to make him better.” . . . The Red Sox recalled Connor Seabold from Triple A Worcester prior to Sunday’s game and optioned Phillips Valdez back to Worcester . . . With Rich Hill on the injured list with a left knee sprain, the Sox are still figuring out who might pitch Wednesday. Kutter Crawford was scratched from his start at Worcester on Sunday, so he could be an option.