LAKELAND, Fla. -- J.D. Martinez is no longer saying his Spring Training at-bats are meaningless. With Opening Day less than a week away, he's trying to get into regular-season mode, which made his three-homer game rather important in a 10-6 win over a Yankees split squad Thursday afternoon at Joker
LAKELAND, Fla. -- J.D. Martinez is no longer saying his Spring Training at-bats are meaningless. With Opening Day less than a week away, he's trying to get into regular-season mode, which made his three-homer game rather important in a 10-6 win over a Yankees split squad Thursday afternoon at Joker Marchant Stadium.
"Right around now is when I want to lock it in these last couple days," Martinez said. "That's what I'm trying to do right now is lock it in. Now is not the time to go up there and try to invent things. It's time to see where you're at and see where you're going to be for Opening Day."
The Tigers came within a few feet of back-to-back-to-back homers in the first inning off ex-Tigers prospect Chad Green, who pitched at Double-A Erie last year before Detroit sent him to New York in December in the Justin Wilson trade. Miguel Cabrera barely missed a homer, settling for a double off the left-field wall, but Victor Martinez and J.D. Martinez did not.
Victor Martinez hit a no-doubt drive to right for his third homer of the spring, and his first since returning from a hamstring strain. J.D. Martinez followed with a drive to the left-field berm, then added an opposite-field loft into the right-field corner leading off the fourth. His third homer of the game carried out to right-center in the seventh off Conor Mullee.
The power display bumped Martinez's total to seven home runs this spring, one behind Philadelphia's Maikel Franco for the Major League lead entering Thursday night. More than half of Martinez's 13 hits in Grapefruit League play have gone over the fence.
"I feel I still have some stuff I want to work on," Martinez said. "I still feel I have some stuff I need to improve on. Tomorrow it's back to the cage to continue to work on the things I've been working on the last couple weeks now."
Ian Kinsler added his fifth homer of the spring.
The runs supported a procession of Tigers relievers in what amounted to a bullpen start. Non-roster right-handers Logan Kensing and Lendy Castillo, the lone remaining candidates for the final spot on the big league pitching staff, tossed two innings each with differing results.
Kensing allowed a pair of singles in the second inning but escaped without allowing a run thanks to a change of speeds for a strikeout of Tyler Collins. Castillo overcame a leadoff walk in the third but gave up a two-run homer to Austin Romine in the fourth.
Romine went 3-for-3. His older brother, Tigers infielder Andrew Romine, went 1-for-1 as a late-game replacement.
Up next for the Yankees:Nathan Eovaldi will make his fourth spring start on Friday as the Yankees visit Marlins Park for the first of two exhibitions in Miami. Jose Fernandez gets the ball for the Marlins in the 7:10 p.m. ET contest. The Yankees will also play an afternoon exhibition against Miami on Saturday before flying home to open the regular season on Monday, facing the Astros at 1:05 p.m.
Up next for the Tigers: They wrap up the home portion of their Spring Training schedule with a 1:05 p.m. ET game Friday against the Rays at Joker Marchant Stadium. Anibal Sanchez will make his final start of the spring as he tries to wrap up the second slot in the Tigers' rotation.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast.