DETROIT -- J.D. Martinez came out swinging this season. After a nagging foot injury kept him out of the lineup the first month and a half, he slashed .407/.579/1.074 in his first nine games, scooping American League Player of the Week honors along the way.Plugging Martinez back into the lineup
DETROIT -- J.D. Martinez came out swinging this season. After a nagging foot injury kept him out of the lineup the first month and a half, he slashed .407/.579/1.074 in his first nine games, scooping American League Player of the Week honors along the way.
Plugging Martinez back into the lineup has provided a significant boost for Detroit, which blew out the White Sox, 15-5, on Friday thanks in part to another big night from its slugging right fielder. Martinez went 3-for-5 with two RBIs, lacking just a single in pursuit of the cycle.
"I would've taken him out of the game earlier," Ausmus said. "But he had the opportunity to get a cycle and I didn't want to leave that dangling out there. ... I'd rather get him off his foot every once in a while to rest him, but you don't get many opportunities for the cycle."
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In the first inning, Martinez jumped on a first-pitch sinker from Chicago starter Derek Holland and hit a double to center. The ball left his bat with 112.5-mph exit velocity, his hardest contact in the Statcast™ Era. In the third, he went after the first pitch again, this time sending a knuckle-curve beyond the wall for his ninth homer of the season. It was also his fifth home run of at least 425 feet, which is the most in the MLB since May 12 when he debuted.
Three innings later, Martinez tripled on a fly ball off the wall in the right-field corner, his third barrel of the night. He had his chance for the cycle in the seventh, but he flew out on a 2-0 fastball thrown over the heart of the plate.
As potent as Martinez has been this year, Friday's game broke him out of a minor slump he sustained during the Tigers' 11-game road trip. On that trip, he was 5-for-32 (.156) with 10 strikeouts. He'll have ups and downs at the plate like anyone else, but with the way he elevates pitches with force, the power numbers are bound to continue. His .797 slugging percentage through 20 games is more than 200 points higher than Alex Avila's .596 mark, which is second on the team.
Tigers GM Al Avila said before Friday's game that the situation with Martinez, who will be a free agent at the end of the season, will "dictate itself when the time comes." Neither Avila nor Ausmus is in a hurry to talk about trading their most productive offensive player. Instead, they have at least the next two months to enjoy his results.
"He's been unbelievable," Ausmus said. "Had a little bit of a lull on the road, but other than that he's been as good a hitter as there is in baseball."
Jordan Horrobin is a reporter for MLB.com based in Detroit.