By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Through four games of the Red Sox season, there aren’t too many positives to find in the 1-3 baseball team. But there are certainly some spots that have shined, despite the circumstances.READ MORE: Red Sox-Twins Game Postponed In Minneapolis After Daunte Wright Shooting
One would be the starting rotation. Outside of Garrett Richards’ disaster, the trio of Nate Eovaldi, Tanner Houch, and Nick Pivetta was strong to quite strong. Another highlight could be found in some bullpen arms, like Garrett Whitlock and his 3.1 scoreless innings (with five strikeouts) or Hirokazu Sawamura and his absolutely electric stuff.
The offensive highlights might be harder to find, but J.D. Martinez is certainly the story there.
Coming off a dreadful 2020 season (.213/.291/.389), Martinez told everyone who would listen that it was not actually a bad season. It was merely a two-month slump.
Though he’s only four games into the effort, he’s certainly backing up his words.
Martinez continued on his tear to start this otherwise dreary offensive season for Boston, reaching base four times in Monday night’s 11-2 win over the Rays. He’s now 8-for-15 on the year, good for a .533 average, which ranks him fourth in the AL in this extremely young season. He’s been delivering power, too, with three doubles and two homers thus far. His 1.133 slugging percentage and his 1.722 OPS are both the top marks in the American League.
Martinez’s second home run of the year might not have exactly been a blast, as it clanged off Pesky’s Pole to stretch Boston’s lead to nine runs in the eighth inning. But it’s the type of fortunate break that tends to go a hitter’s way when he’s hot.
Martinez now has a hit in all four of Boston’s games this season, and he has multiple hits in three of them.READ MORE: Why Red Sox Hitters Go For A Ride In A Laundry Cart After Every Home Run
“I’m continuing to work,” Martinez said prior to Monday night’s game. “So I just gotta keep grinding. It’s a long season.”
As he said during the spring, Martinez reiterated how he never got fully prepared for last season.
“I feel a lot better. I feel a lot more confident with myself and the work that I put in this season,” he said. “Last year was one of those things where it kind of sprung up. ‘Are we gonna play, are we not? Oh, you gotta get ready, you got three weeks‘ type deal. Where this year you kind of mentally more prepared, I would say.”
Of course, Martinez also has the added benefit of having some access to in-game video. That was taken away from him and all MLB players last year, in the wake of Rob Manfred trying to resolve a couple of cases of sign stealing. Martinez said throughout last season that not having video of his at-bats available to him made it harder to figure things out, and having it back has already made a difference this season.
“A lot. It’s definitely cooled my anxiety, I would say, of being able to try something out and going in there and seeing, ‘OK, yeah, that looks better,’ and being able to make those adjustments from at-bat to at-bat,” he said.
As for putting it all together, Martinez said it was simply a matter of taking everything that he knows and everything that he was doing and “just lining up all the things again.”
“I know it’s always in there, it’s just lining them up and getting them to sequence the right way again,” Martinez said.
He’s not the only Red Sox player to start the season hitting well. Christian Vazquez is off to a hot start, going 5-for-11 (.455) thus far. And with a 4-for-5 night in the cleanup spot on Monday, Xander Bogaerts has joined the party, too.MORE NEWS: Red Sox Have A Whole Lot Of Day Games This Week
But Martinez will be the key to offensive success for this team. While the wins haven’t exactly begun to pile up just yet, the 33-year-old has thus far delivered.