The freshly signed J.D. Martinez joined his new teammates for his first pregame batting practice session as a member of the Boston Red Sox.
We have our first on-field J.D. Martinez sighting! He won’t play in this afternoon’s game. In fact, Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora revealed that Martinez won’t play in a game until next week. The latest prized free agent acquisition is taking a step in that direction though.
Martinez was on the field Tuesday morning for his first pregame batting practice session of the spring.
Delays in finalizing the deal while both sides hashed out details of a restructured agreement following a physical that revealed potential long-term concerns meant Martinez wasn’t officially introduced until yesterday. That puts him about a week behind when the rest of the position players began full-squad workouts.
That explains why Martinez isn’t quite ready to see game action. In the meantime, Martinez will work on his swing – which is what the Red Sox signed him for. Jet Blue Park is nearly an exact replica of Fenway Park, allowing Martinez to use this time to familiarize himself with the unique dimensions of his new home ballpark.
According to the Boston Herald’s Jason Mastrodonato, Cora expects Martinez to stick with the same approach at Fenway.
"“The wall is going to help him out actually because he’s going to stay on those fastballs and drive them to right-center,” said Cora. “Whenever they hang one he’ll pull it with power.”"
The Green Monster provides an inviting target for hitters in Fenway’s left field given its close proximity to home plate compared to other parks. The right-handed Martinez isn’t primarily a pull hitter. His 38.3 pull percentage tied for 100th in the majors last year, per FanGraphs. He’s adept at crushing the ball to center or taking it to the opposite field and he has the power to clear the fences in any direction.
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Martinez salvaged his career by adjusting his swing a few years ago with a focus on launch angle. He’ll put his fair share of dents in the left field wall but his swing is designed to send moonshots flying over the towering Green Monster when he pulls the ball.
The 30-year-old slugger has only played seven career games at Fenway with a grand total of 29 plate appearances. The environment isn’t completely foreign to him yet it may take some time for Martinez to familiarize himself with his new home park. Once he finds a comfort zone in this setting he’ll find his swing is perfectly tailored to take advantage of Fenway’s dimensions.
For now, we’ll need to settle for watching Martinez take batting practice swings but it won’t be long before he’s anchoring the Red Sox lineup.