Milestone for Martinez: J.D. joins 300-HR club

Dodgers slugger joins several teammates who've entered exclusive clubs in '23

June 28th, 2023

DENVER -- When crossed home plate, Dodgers outfielder David Peralta offered him congratulations. For a second, Martinez had no idea what Peralta was talking about.

But after a few seconds, it all hit Martinez. With two homers in the Dodgers’ 5-0 win over the Rockies on Tuesday at Coors Field, Martinez became the 156th player in Major League history to hit 300 career homers.

“It’s a blessing,” Martinez said. “Honestly, from where I started, you know, with my whole story of getting released by Houston and getting the chance, an opportunity, with Detroit, and them believing in me. … At that time, I would have never guessed it. But it’s a blessing.”

The Dodgers have gotten used to celebrating individual accomplishments in 2023. Earlier this season, Clayton Kershaw, who exited Tuesday’s game with an undisclosed ailment after six dominant innings, was honored with a champagne toast by his teammates when reaching the 200-win mark. Freddie Freeman got the same treatment last month when he, too, hit his 300th homer. On Sunday, Freeman was toasted again after his 2,000th hit.

On Tuesday, it was Martinez’s turn to be celebrated. Mookie Betts, who was teammates with Martinez in Boston and now again in Los Angeles, shared some words. Hitting coach Robert Van Scoyoc, whom Martinez credits for changing the trajectory of his career, also stood in the visiting clubhouse to applaud the Dodgers’ designated hitter.

“It was good,” Martinez said. “Just seeing them and you know, having them say nice things and Mook speaking up, and you know, our journey together and our history back together back in 2018. And Robert, he’s like a little brother to me. It means a lot.”

Martinez’s first homer of the day came in the third inning, a two-run homer to right field off right-hander Connor Seabold. In his next at-bat, Martinez didn’t waste any time joining the 300-homer club, smacking a solo homer to left field off left-hander Brad Hand.

He’s the sixth player to hit his 300th homer with the Dodgers, joining Duke Snider, Gil Hodges, Gary Sheffield, Adrián González and Freeman. Martinez is also the first player since Miguel Cabrera (a former teammate) on July 22, 2012, to reach the 300-homer mark with a multi-homer game.

“It’s a result of having a lot of good players that can withstand the test of time,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. “I wish he would’ve done it at home. But still, 300 homers, that’s a big number.”

Martinez has dominated at Coors Field throughout his career, coming into Tuesday’s game with a .438 batting average in Colorado, which ranked fifth all-time among players with at least 50 plate appearances at the ballpark. That average only went up on Tuesday.

Martinez, who signed a one-year deal with the Dodgers this winter, has had quite the first season in Los Angeles. With his two blasts on Tuesday, Martinez now has 18 homers in 62 games. He had just 16 over 139 games with the Red Sox in 2022.

“You know, way back when [Van Scoyoc] was talking about this, back in Detroit and everyone thought we were crazy,” Martinez said. “He goes, ‘I want 400.’ And I was like, 400? You crazy. So we’d always laugh about it or whatever, but it’s cool. Honestly, it’s a blessing.”