Even after last season, Red Sox’ J.D. Martinez feels he can improve
FORT MYERS, Fla. — J.D. Martinez experienced spring training on the run last season. His contract with the Red Sox was not completed until Feb. 25, his first Grapefruit League game was March 7, and then the regular season started March 29.
Along the way he had to get to know a new set of teammates and coaches.
“You’re hoping to fit in and make friends quickly,” Martinez said.
The final result was perfect. Martinez had a 1.031 OPS, belted 43 home runs, and the Red Sox won the World Series.
A year later, the pace is much more measured. Martinez has eased into workouts and Saturday was his first game. He was 0 for 2 in a 9-1 loss against the Baltimore Orioles.
Martinez has hit only two home runs over 86 at-bats in 16 spring training games dating to 2016. He’s all process at this time of the season, not production.
“You don’t want to burn out too quickly,” Martinez said. “This is a different situation. I think everyone knows what the starting lineup is going to be.”
While his 2018 statistics will be hard to top, Martinez believes he can improve.
“There’s always room to grow,” he said. “I learned so many things last year that I didn’t learn the year before. I feel like the mind’s always growing and as long as you keep absorbing information it’s hard to say ‘no’ because then I feel like I’m giving up on myself.”
Martinez will get a day off Sunday and is scheduled to play back-to-back road games on Monday and Tuesday against the Mets and Nationals. That will give him a chance to stay at his home in Miami for a few days.
Rafael Devers and Christian Vazquez also will make that trip.
The Sox agreed to terms with 17 players with 0-3 years of service time.
Notable among them were Andrew Benintendi ($717,500), Devers ($614,500), Brian Johnson ($575,000), and Hector Velazquez ($568,500).
The Sox also signed pitchers Ryan Brasier, Colten Brewer, Darwinzon Hernandez, Travis Lakins, Bobby Poyner, Denyi Reyes, Chandler Shepherd, Josh Taylor, and Marcus Walden, and infielders Michael Chavis, Marco Hernandez, Tzu-Wei Lin, and Sam Travis.
The Sox are obligated to pay those players only the major league minimum of $555,000 but factor in increases based on service time and performance.
Stars come out
Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski arrived on Friday, and on Saturday he put on a uniform and watched batting practice from the field.
Yastrzemski, 79, makes an annual appearance at camp to work with minor league hitters.
At one point on Saturday, Yastrzemski, Dwight Evans, Jim Rice, David Ortiz, Luis Tiant, and Tim Wakefield were all in uniform.
Johnson, who was scheduled to face the Orioles, missed the game because of illness. Brewer started in his place and allowed two runs on two hits and three walks over one-plus innings. Brewer has put nine men on base in three innings so far. The Sox talked up their acquisition from San Diego at the start of camp, but Brewer has been inconsistent throwing strikes . . . Manager Alex Cora said Dustin Pedroia is progressing well but isn’t expected to play until “most likely” next weekend. Pedroia, who is returning from knee surgery, will have a full workout Monday that will include batting practice, infield drills, and sprints . . . Steve Pearce was back on the field for workouts after missing three days with a sinus infection that wiped him out. Pearce isn’t expected to play until Wednesday . . . Matt Barnes had his first session of live batting practice and threw plenty of strikes. The Sox have purposely started Barnes slowly coming off the postseason. His first game is not expected until late this coming week . . . Travis Roy was in the crowd of 9,676.