SEATTLE -- The Tigers are all well-aware of the ramifications of a subpar record as the non-waiver Trade Deadline nears. No one might be more keenly aware than outfielder J.D. Martinez.Of all the players who could be dealt if the Tigers decide to become sellers next month, Martinez tops the
SEATTLE -- The Tigers are all well-aware of the ramifications of a subpar record as the non-waiver Trade Deadline nears. No one might be more keenly aware than outfielder J.D. Martinez.
Of all the players who could be dealt if the Tigers decide to become sellers next month, Martinez tops the list, a free agent to be and an impact hitter on a team that needs to reduce its payroll no matter what happens the rest of this season. That's why when Martinez is asked if he's feeling the urgency of the club's struggles, he has a slightly quizzical look.
"I've been saying that since the beginning," Martinez said. "I mean, at least for me personally, there's been urgency since the season started, just because the whole Trade Deadline, stuff like that. You don't want to start off slow because it's kind of hard for a GM to be like, 'You know what, we're going to start winning.' You have to put up the numbers."
If the Tigers are in the thick of the postseason race or stuck near the cellar around the end of July, Martinez said, it's not a tough decision for general manager Al Avila. It's the middle ground that makes things difficult.
"We knew there was going to be talk," he said, "and it's just going to get louder and louder as it goes on. If you put yourself in that position there, what are they going to say?"
Martinez wants to stay in Detroit; he has made that clear since Spring Training. He also wants to win. He also knows his long-term future as a free agent is a separate question.
"I like the team. I want to stay here," he said. "Obviously, I want to win. I want to be here. I hate feeling like I have to start over again with a new team. I like this team. I want to start winning. I want to put Al in a spot where he's gotta make a decision, make it hard on him."
Martinez is doing his part. He entered Thursday with 12 home runs in 37 games since returning from the disabled list on May 12, fifth-most in the Majors in that span. He has cooled off a bit from his earlier pace, when he became the first player in franchise history to homer 10 times in his first 22 games of a season, but he entered Thursday batting .338 (23-for-68) with six doubles, a triple, four homers and eight RBIs in June.
The Tigers' fortunes in June haven't been nearly as favorable. They are 14-22 with Martinez in the lineup. And while he insists the Tigers aren't pressing, he admits they have to do better in close contests like the losses they sustained at Safeco Field this week.
"These close games the last couple days, we have to find a way to win those," he said. "That's what good teams do. They win those games."
For now, Martinez said, all he can do is keep a consistent approach. Considering trade speculation has been fairly consistent on him, that's not difficult.
Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.