Chris Sale is happy the Red Sox signed J.D. Martinez because he won't have to pitch to him anymore
Monday morning, the Red Sox introduced their new slugger to media as J.D. Martinez donned an Red Sox cap for the first time. As that was happening, at least one of the team's pitchers was breathing a sigh of relief:
Chris Sale on J.D. Martinez: “Someone said I’ve faced him the most of anybody. I’m glad that’s over with.”— Brian MacPherson (@brianmacp) February 26, 2018
Sale and Martinez have squared off 42 times over the course of their careers. While Sale has faced 13 other hitters more frequently, Martinez has faced Sale more than he has any other pitcher. Furthermore, Martinez is one of only 16 hitters to have hit three or more homers off the six-time All Star.
Two of those home runs came in 2016. Martinez was sidelined for much of that summer after he sustained an elbow injury running into an outfield wall. His last home run before that injury came off Chris Sale, a two-run dinger that gave Martinez's Tigers a 2-1 lead in an eventual 7-4 win.
He went on the DL on June 16. On Aug. 3, Martinez took his first at-bat after the injury as a pinch-hitter in the 8th inning of a 1-1 game against Sale's White Sox. The result was the same as before the injury:
Thanks to Martinez's heroic return, the Tigers won that game, 2-1.
Those notable dingers aside, Sale has held Martinez to a .237 batting average and .812 OPS overall, both well below his career marks. Still, Sale is right to be relieved that he'll never have to worry about giving up a dinger to the man they call Just Dingers ever again.