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J.D. on 'D': 'I take a lot of pride in it'

New Red Sox slugger aims to change conversation about glove work
MLB.com @IanMBrowne

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Joining a Red Sox team that already has three strong outfielders, J.D. Martinez knows he will spend his share of time in the designated-hitter role. But he also plans on demonstrating that he is a better outfielder than people think.

In fact, Martinez admitted Sunday he gets downright annoyed when his defense is dissed.

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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Joining a Red Sox team that already has three strong outfielders, J.D. Martinez knows he will spend his share of time in the designated-hitter role. But he also plans on demonstrating that he is a better outfielder than people think.

In fact, Martinez admitted Sunday he gets downright annoyed when his defense is dissed.

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"I've always gotten this [label], bad defender," said Martinez. "But if you ask anybody that plays baseball and knows baseball, they're going to say, 'No, you're not a bad defensive player.' You can ask every coach from Ron Gardenhire to Dave Clark, anyone who has seen me play, they don't know why they say I'm a bad defender.

"It's all the analytics. In my sense, they have to fix the way they measure that stuff. Because for me, sometimes the way they do it is not as accurate as it's supposed to be. I went to Arizona, they measured it in a different way and they were like, 'You get to balls and we're more than happy with what you're doing.' So I've always had confidence. I take it seriously. I get more [upset] when I mess something up in the outfield than I do at the plate. I take a lot of pride in it. I don't feel like I'm a liability out there as much as everyone wants to make it sound like that."

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

As Martinez pointed out, he was named a finalist for the Gold Glove Award among American League right fielders in 2015.

"I busted my butt in '15," Martinez said. "Then in '16, I broke my arm running into a wall, so then I got scared of running into walls because I didn't want to get hurt again. I wanted to get my bat in the lineup. So [with] balls off the wall, I just let it go and I got penalized for it. Then, coming back [last year] and I hurt my foot in Spring Training, so [then] I can't even run. But they want my bat in the lineup. So I'm like, 'OK, whatever they have to do.' It's kind of like that battle, and I hate that label because I take pride in it."

After discussions with manager Alex Cora, Martinez is confident he will get plenty of chances to prove his worth in the outfield this season despite the presence of Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mookie Betts.

"I think so," Martinez said. "I think the way Alex explained it to me, it's not just, 'Hey, you're at DH', it's, 'Hey, I like to do a rotation.' This way, it gets guys days off their feet. I think it's smart. It keeps guys like Mookie and Jackie and Benny and guys that are burners, it gives them days off their feet."

Papi speaks to team

Though retired legend David Ortiz had a short, four-day visit with the Red Sox in his role as a special assistant, it was a memorable one. Ortiz's gregarious presence was welcomed around the batting cage by his former teammates and new slugger Martinez.

Prior to Saturday's game against the Yankees, Ortiz spoke to the entire team.

"Yeah, he talked," Cora told reporters on Saturday in Sarasota. "He's like, 'How long I got?' I was like, 'I don't know.' He's like, 'Can I have five minutes?' It was cool. He talked about his experiences and him being around. I respect David and really like him. If one of those guys wants to talk in a meeting, like Dewey [Evans] and Jason [Varitek] and Tim [Wakefield], Luis Tiant if he wants to, it's an open floor. It's good to have them around."

Once Ortiz was done talking, he capped the moment as only he could.

"Then he took a selfie and he posted it everywhere," Cora said.

Video: Sale on facing live batters in bullpen session

Sale watches Groome

After an entire offseason of working out with top Red Sox pitching prospect Jay Groome, Red Sox ace Chris Sale pitched in the same Minor League game as the fellow lefty on Sunday.

"That was the first time I've ever seen him throw live," Sale said. "He looks a lot bigger on the mound. He looks good, his arm looks good, he's big, too, so I'll shoot him a text tonight."

Up next

Following an off-day on Monday, the Red Sox travel to Port Charlotte, Fla., to face the Rays on Tuesday at 1:05 p.m. ET on Gameday Audio. Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, Mitch Moreland and Benintendi are all expected to be in the lineup. Matt Barnes, Joe Kelly and Carson Smith will get work out of the bullpen following Hector Velazquez's start. David Price will pitch in a Minor League camp game on Monday, marking his first game action this spring.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

Boston Red Sox, J.D. Martinez