ARLINGTON -- Was there added motivation in beating his former Rangers team? Of course. Leonys Martin wasn't going to deny the extra spice of playing a key role in the Mariners topping Texas back-to-back days. Seattle thus took the season-opening series against the club that replaced Martin in center field
ARLINGTON -- Was there added motivation in beating his former Rangers team? Of course. Leonys Martin wasn't going to deny the extra spice of playing a key role in the Mariners topping Texas back-to-back days. Seattle thus took the season-opening series against the club that replaced Martin in center field last season and then dealt him to the Mariners for reliever Tom Wilhelmsen in November.
"I don't want to turn it into a big thing," Martin said after racking up three hits with a double and homer in Wednesday's 9-5 victory. "But I'm so happy about it."
The 28-year-old Cuban was the Rangers' starting center fielder in 2013-14, but he lost his job to Delino DeShields during a difficult '15. But the Mariners believe his excellent defense and strong arm can be keys to success in Safeco Field -- and it doesn't hurt when the speedster smokes the go-ahead RBI double in the seventh inning of Tuesday's win and follows it up with another run-scoring double to tie the game in Seattle's winning five-run rally in the ninth in Wednesday's finale.
A little emotional coming against Texas, which signed him out of Cuba in 2011 and was his home for the past five seasons in the Majors?
"For sure," Martin said. "This is why I fight every single pitch, every single at-bat."
New teammate Robinson Cano understands what it feels like to play against former teammates, and he appreciated Martin's effort.
"Everybody wants to come back and play against the team that let them go," Cano said. "And his second at-bat, he hit a homer."
Martin's second-inning homer gave Seattle a 3-0 lead. He added a single in the fifth and his double in the ninth, putting his average at a healthy .400 through three games.
"Great series," said manager Scott Servais. "Good for him getting off to a good start. Those were tough lefties he was facing our first two nights in here, so it was nice to see him get some momentum going."
It's been a busy start to the season for Martin, whose wife gave birth to their third child in Miami in the closing days of Spring Training. He rejoined the team for its final Cactus League game in Arizona and then opened the season in a very familiar place.
"I played here for five years," he said. "I feel like the people love me here. I was glad to be here to play Opening Day in Texas."
And now he's eager to continue his hot start in Seattle.
"I'm just going to try to continue to be aggressive at home plate and help my team win ballgames," Martin said. "That's all I want to do."
Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast.