In a recent sit-down with MLB.com, slugger J.D. Martinez, who signed a five-year, $110 million contract with the Red Sox on Feb. 26, answered 20 questions on a wide range of topics.MLB.com: How long did it take you to feel settled after finally getting in uniform with the Red Sox?Martinez:
In a recent sit-down with MLB.com, slugger J.D. Martinez, who signed a five-year, $110 million contract with the Red Sox on Feb. 26, answered 20 questions on a wide range of topics.
MLB.com: How long did it take you to feel settled after finally getting in uniform with the Red Sox?
Martinez: Pretty quickly. I feel like the guys are great. Obviously I'm still getting comfortable to this team and my role and trying to get used to the routine. I'm still in the process of it continuing to happen. I think it's a question you can ask in July or August.
MLB.com: You've been described as OCD when it comes to hitting. When did that develop?
Martinez: It kind of started when I got released [by the Astros in 2014]. I mean, I always loved to hit, so I guess that's not true. I've always loved hitting, and even as a kid, I always hit. Growing up, it was almost like a drug, going into the cage and hitting. It was like a relaxation. I kind of fell in love with it back then.
MLB.com: You are meticulous even with your batting practice, making sure that gets filmed every day. What kind of things do you take from that?
Martinez: A lot of things. I kind of see where my swing is at. For me, it's going through my checklist that I have with my mechanics and where I want to be at certain points and certain spots throughout my swing.
MLB.com: Do you feel almost like you were ahead of the curve with this whole launch-angle phenomenon?
Martinez: Yeah, I don't know what else to say. I was. People see the results from it and kind of go from there.
MLB.com: What was the biggest thing you took from your brief time in Spring Training with David Ortiz?
Martinez: To not take nine million swings during the game, because it's easy to do. You're bored as a DH, and you don't know what to do. But he told me to take it easy and get ready for your at-bat, and that's it. Study more than swing.
MLB.com: Are you still trying to feel out the routine of DH-ing and how to make it the most effective for you?
Martinez: Absolutely -- I'm still trying to figure that out. It's been a couple of games so far. It will take some time.
MLB.com: When you were released in 2014, did you look at Big Papi's story as inspiration at all? Amazingly, the Twins released him, and we saw how that turned out.
Martinez: Yeah, absolutely. There's a lot of guys I thought of at that time. I thought of David, I thought of Jose Bautista as well. There was definitely hope. I knew what I had done in the game was going to buy me an opportunity with another team.
MLB.com: How did that release change your perspective on your career?
Martinez: I think it made me who I am. I've always been hungry, but when people ask, "What drives you? How do you stay so driven throughout this whole thing?" You just don't stop. It's every single day. The people that know me and the people that love me in and are in my life see it.
My brother-in-law came up to me and was like, "Dude, I admire your life and what you do and everything you do. It's amazing. I wouldn't want it for me. Because the amount of time you spend in this game, the amount of time away from your family, that's stuff you'll never get back."
But it's my passion, it's my love, it's what I love to do. To me, that took my OCD to another level where when you have something taken away … it's like the famous expression, "You don't realize you love something until it's gone."
MLB.com: After playing against Dustin Pedroia for so many years, what has it been like getting to share a clubhouse with him and see what he's all about?
Martinez: He's a trip. He just cracks me up. He's a high-energy guy, and I love that, personally. It's cool to see a different side of him.
MLB.com: How much are you looking forward to Fenway Park and Opening Day and seeing what that's going to be like?
Martinez: Honestly, I don't know what it's going to be like. I think it will be cool and awesome and exciting.
MLB.com: You know you'll have that Monster sitting there 310 feet away, but you've never been a true pull hitter. How will you manage that?
Martinez: Do what got me here. That's why they signed me.
MLB.com:Jose Cabrera. What did you take from him?
Martinez: His swing, just watching him and watching the way he hits and he plays. The one thing I always learned about Miggy, when you watch him when he has a bad day, he always does something in a way that helps the team win, whether it's moving the runner over or whatever needs to be done.
MLB.com: The Red Sox-Yankees rivalry. That's coming up pretty quickly here, next week. How ready are you for that?
Martinez: It should be awesome. Obviously I can't speak from experience, but from what I see on TV, it looks like it's going to be a lot of fun.
MLB.com: How would you describe your personality? Outgoing? Quiet? Somewhere in between?
Martinez: I think it's quiet to the media and quiet to people I don't know. But to people I do know, I'm outgoing. I think I'm a funny guy. I'm somewhat serious, but I also like to have fun and talk trash. With my group of friends, we love to make fun of each other. With my friends back home, you're never safe. Someone's always waiting for you to slip up so they can pounce on you, and it's kind of fun. That's how we joke with each other.
MLB.com: What was your favorite part about the city of Boston as a visitor?
Martinez: The history. It's really cool.
MLB.com: Off the field, what do you like to do to get away from baseball?
Martinez: Get on the boat or fishing, sandbar -- whatever it might be. Just get on the boat, really.
MLB.com: The passion of Boston, it's nonstop. It seems like you also have a nonstop passion for the game. You think that will make you a good fit for this city?
Martinez: Definitely. I love the game and I love to play. You have to admire fans who are the same way.
MLB.com: That run you got on with Arizona last year, it seemed like you were in that proverbial "zone." What was that feeling like?
Martinez: It was fun. It was just because I would say I wasn't worried about my swing when I'm up there competing. That's when the game is fun. Now it's strictly a competition. If you make a mistake, I'm going to hit you. If you don't make a mistake, then you're going to get me out. It's that cat-and-mouse game. That, to me, is when baseball is the best.
MLB.com: The four-homer game you had at Dodger Stadium last year. What is your best recollection of that?
Martinez: That's a tough one. It was just one of those surreal moments when I felt like I did a really good job of controlling the emotions and the fans, controlling my mind to not get wrapped up in it.
MLB.com: You've had brief tastes of the playoffs with Detroit and Arizona, and you've done well both times. How much of a thirst do you have to play deep in October to find out what it would be like on the biggest stage?
Martinez: Yes, absolutely. That's part of the reason I picked Boston, because I know they're going to have the opportunity to get to the playoffs. And I just remember being in the playoffs the two years I was in there and just that environment, that's what baseball is about. That's what you play for. I just want to go deep in the playoffs and be put in that situation where I'm locked in and the game and the season is on the line.
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.