BOSTON (CBS) — J.D. Martinez is just one man. But his impact on the Red Sox lineup should still be significant.
“With this lineup and what they need, I think it’s everything,” WBZ’s Dan Roche said about the Sox’ newest addition, which became official on Monday morning. “He replaced David Ortiz’s bat, basically, who was guaranteed to give you 30 [homers] and 100 [RBIs]. Over the last four years, [Martinez] has averaged 32 home runs, hit 45 last year.”
Those 45 home runs make the power obvious, but Martinez does come with some injury concerns. It took the Red Sox and agent Scott Boras a full week to work out the language that protects the team in case Martinez misses extended time with the foot injury that delayed his 2017 season.
But obviously, that foot injury didn’t prevent him from putting together a mammoth season. So Roche is less concerned with the injury potential as much as he’s concerned with how Martinez can settle in to filling the designated hitter role, something he’s done just 35 times in his 700 games in a starting lineup.
“I think that’s the bigger concern than anything else that I think is maybe overlooked. He talked again about playing the outfield and DHing,” Roche said. “He’s not going to go in for Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi or Jackie Bradley Jr. He’s going to be your DH. That’s a hard thing to get used to. Hanley [Ramirez] had a hard time with it last year. David Ortiz got very good at it. Martinez is a video nut; he loves to watch the video of the opposing pitcher. But it’s not an easy thing to adapt to. I think that’s the biggest concern I have coming in to camp, is how does he adapt to DHing?”
With a starting outfield presumably in place, with Martinez eager to play the field, and with a pair of starting-caliber first basemen in Ramirez and Mitch Moreland, there will also be a lot of work for first-year manager Alex Cora.
“It’s also not an easy thing for Alex Cora, to manage that,” Michael Hurley said. “If the guy really wants to play the field, it’s a hard thing to manage, to massage, and make sure everyone’s getting what they need. And then you throw Mitch Moreland into the mix, too, and there’s a lot of people who are capable of playing that Alex Cora’s going to have to manage in his first year on the job.”
It’s a challenge, without a doubt. But as they say, it’s a good problem to have.