SPRINGFIELD — J.D. Martinez wants all this to go away. Although Red Sox players were asked not to comment on the investigation into cheating allegations against the 2018 team, Martinez wanted to make sure everyone knew his team wasn’t cheating.
“I’m excited for the investigation to be over so they can see there was nothing going on here,” Martinez said on Day 2 of the Red Sox’ Winter Weekend.
Does Martinez truly believe the Sox played fairly and Major League Baseball will find that to be true, too?
“I believe that, yes,” he said.
Martinez has a lot of connections to this. He came up with the Astros in 2011 and was released by the club in 2014.
He was managed in Boston for two years by Alex Cora, who, according to the commissioner’s report, spearheaded the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal as a bench coach. He’s college friends with Mike Fiers, who revealed the Astros cheated in a report by The Athletic.
“I understand his side of it,” Martinez said regarding Fiers’s decision to inform the public of the Astros’ cheating. “I understand his side of it, being in that division and going against those guys. It’s one of those things where it’s an uncomfortable position for him.
“I wish him the best with everything. I talked about it with him. He obviously felt like he needed to and I understand it.”
As it relates to the 2018 Red Sox, Martinez said that he saw firsthand how they went about their business and they did it legitimately.
“Everyone seems to forget that 2016-17, this team was a really good team,” Martinez said. “We just got better.”
Bradley: I’m still here
When Sox management came out and said they would like to get under the luxury-tax threshold heading into the 2020 season, a candidate one assumed would be moved in the offseason was Jackie Bradley Jr. He settled for $11 million in arbitration and hits free agency next season.
Bradley is one of the best — if not the best — defensive center fielders in baseball. But Chaim Bloom has taken a slow and steady approach in his first year as Red Sox chief baseball officer, and as of Saturday Bradley was still in a Sox uniform.
“I’m just going out there and focusing on what I can control,” Bradley said. “Free agency isn’t something I can control right now. I’ve been traded seven, eight, nine different times every year. It’s the same. I don’t put too much attention into it. It’s one of those things where I can’t control it, I’m not going to worry about it.”
There is still a possibility that Bradley could be traded, but for now his focus is with the Sox. He is hoping to rebound from a season in which he hit just .225 and struck out a career-high 155 times.
“I’m prepared,” Bradley said. “Once the season starts, I’ll be ready. I’m excited. I’m excited for the opportunity to go out there and perform.”
Eovaldi ready to go
Nathan Eovaldi missed a chunk of the season with loose bodies in his elbow last season. When he was finally back to full health and activated from the disabled list in July, the Red Sox planned to keep him in the bullpen. But after David Price and Chris Sale were lost to injury, the Red Sox had no choice but to build Eovaldi back up to being a starter.
Eovaldi could never quite get his feet under him and had trouble pitching up in the zone, where he made a living in the season prior. In the games he did start from Aug. 18-Sept. 27, Eovaldi posted a 6.21 ERA in 33⅓ innings. Hitters posted a .882 OPS against him in that span.
Eovaldi said he’s healthy now and has thrown off the mound once so far.
“Health-wise, I feel really good,” Eovaldi said. “I’ve been doing a lot of work back home, physical therapy stuff trying to get the kinetic chain. The shoulder is feeling great, body is feeling great. I’m ready to go.”