Before the Rangers faced off in an AL West matchup against the Mariners on Thursday, manager Chris Woodward joked that if Jason Martin could do exactly what the last outfield callup has done, Texas would be in great shape.
Adolis García was called up on April 13 and has hit .288/.324/.619 with 16 home runs. Martin, who was called up on Wednesday after David Dahl landed on the 10-day injured list, got the start in left field on Thursday to attempt to prove his staying power on the big league club.
At Triple-A Round Rock this season, Martin has slashed .302/.413/.755 with a 1.167 OPS. Through 15 games, he hit seven home runs and had 16 RBIs.
“He has been phenomenal, not just numbers-wise, but just overall,” Woodward said. “We saw it in Spring Training with his attitude, this guy's exactly the kind of competitor that we look for in the batter's box. He's a savage. This guy does not take anything for granted. He's a good baserunner, plays the game hard, he’s a good outfielder. He’s also a tremendous teammate.”
Woodward said he felt like García and Martin were the Rangers’ two best hitters this past Spring Training and both got serious consideration for the Opening Day roster before opening the season at the alternate training site.
The Rangers signed Martin to a Minor League deal in the offseason after he was outrighted by the Pirates. He said he doesn’t really have a chip on his shoulder, but he does have a desire to prove people wrong.
Martin calls himself a “student of the game,” saying that he just tries to get better and better every day.
“At the end of the day, I'm just trying to come out and do what I can to help the team win and continue to grow every day,” Martin said. “I just want to work my way up to be the best player I could be. It’s definitely not the best feeling in the world to get outrighted, but it opens up more opportunities.”
Woodward said the 25-year-old fits right in with a young Rangers clubhouse. Scouts and hitting coaches raved of Martin’s maturity and character in the offseason and said he could be a special player. Woodward was pleasantly surprised to have him exceed expectations.
“When I got to see him play, I got to see him compete and the way he swung the bat. And when I watched his batting practice I saw his attention to detail; he was checking all the boxes,” Woodward said. “It's exciting to know that we got a young player that the rest of the league didn't realize was that good.”
Martin appeared in seven games with the Pirates in 2020, going 0-for-9 with two walks. He talked at length about how he felt his swing and approach at the plate changed between his stints with the Astros' and Pirates' systems.
When he signed with Texas, Martin wanted to get back toward an all-fields approach at the plate. He said that while it’s good to try out new things and new approaches, you have to know when it's affecting you in a negative way.
“The last couple years I had kind of started moving on and started tinkering things with my swing, and it just left me at a place where I didn't really feel comfortable,” Martin said. “At the end of the day you have to be confident and comfortable with what you're doing.
“I feel like naturally I have a bat path that can drive the ball, and the past couple years when I was with Pittsburgh, I was doing things here and there to kind of change, that I got to a point now where I'm comfortable again in the box. I'm feeling good and ready to go.”