Dalbec gets chance to learn from Martinez

Big Papi arrives at Spring Training; Devers diets; Putnam scratched

March 1st, 2019

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- One of the bigger side benefits for highly touted Red Sox slugging prospect Bobby Dalbec in his first Major League Spring Training is that he has the chance to learn the art of hitting and preparation from J.D. Martinez.

Nobody is better than Martinez at sharing his expertise, and it started earlier this week when the star DH was giving Dalbec a brief tutorial in the clubhouse.

When the Red Sox play on the east coast of Florida against the Mets and Nationals on Monday and Tuesday, Martinez and Dalbec will be in the same batting-practice group for the first time.

“It'll be good for Dalbec to be around J.D.,” said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. “Same thing with [Michael] Chavis and the other guys. That's something that makes us better. We saw what happened last year with a few guys, not only with J.D., with other guys. The connection they have with [hitting coaches] Timmy [Hyers] and with Andy [Barkett], that's something we're very proud of. I like that. The more baseball talk, I said it last year, the louder, the more, the better it is for us."

Dalbec, Boston's No. 3 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, is big presence at 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds. He has the tools to be a big power hitter in the Majors. Lessons from Martinez can only enhance Dalbec's development.

“J.D.’s not a guy where it’s ‘his way' to the other guy. He looks, and it's not about launch angle and load with your hip or whatever,” Cora said. “He recognizes swings and he has a way of communicating what he feels in a very easy way. He's good at communicating. It's amazing. For how complicated it sounds, his swing and everything, when he talks to other hitters he makes it very simple, and I think that's a gift that he has.”

It is always interesting to see what type of impression a big prospect makes in his first camp, and Dalbec is clearly making a favorable one.

“The one thing in a small sample size that I'm impressed with Dalbec is he controls the strike zone,” said Cora. “For the swings and misses everyone talks about and the numbers obviously, he shows that from college all the way to last year, although in the second half he was a lot better.

“You see him now, you're like, 'He controls the strike zone.' It's not like he's swinging out of control. Chavis he has a very powerful swing. He's under control but he doesn't look under control. But Dalbec, he controls it and his swing is under control. I think that's something that J.D. does a good job of, staying off the edges of the strike zone, and Bobby so far has shown that as well.”

Papi arrives
Legendary former slugger David Ortiz made his first appearance at Spring Training on Friday. In his multifaceted role with the Red Sox, he typically spends a few days in camp working with players.

Ortiz was in uniform for Friday’s 4-3 loss against the Twins.

Devers looking lighter
The work Rafael Devers put in over the offseason with his conditioning and diet appears to be paying off. The third baseman is off to a strong start this spring, and he went 1-for-3 with a double and a run scored on Friday.

“He's moving a lot better,” Cora said. “Even on that double, you can see him running on the bases, he looks a lot lighter on his feet. And he was at second, there was a ground ball to short and he was able to change his direction and all that. He looks good. He understands what he wants to do at the plate, but physically he's in a great place.”

Putnam scratched
Righty Zach Putnam was supposed to make his first appearance on Friday since undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2017, but he was scratched after slipping in a drill on Thursday. Cora said that Putnam tweaked his hamstring, but the ailment isn’t expected to sideline him long.

A non-roster invitee, Putnam’s fight for a spot in the bullpen will be worth watching. Before the Tommy John surgery, he had developed into a strong setup man for the White Sox.

Up next
When the Red Sox host the Orioles on Saturday at JetBlue Park, Martinez will make his 2019 Grapefruit League debut. Martinez was a machine in his first season with Boston, slashing .330/.402/.629 with 43 homers and 130 RBIs. Lefty Brian Johnson will make the start. Righty Colten Brewer, who is battling for a spot in the bullpen, will also pitch. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. ET.