Houston Astros outfielder J.D. Martinez still isn't sure what to expect during his first full season in the big leagues.
For that matter, second baseman Jose Altuve and right-handed reliever David Carpenter feel the same way.
“I still don't know what to expect, but I definitely feel more comfortable about my talent playing at that level,” Martinez said during Monday's annual Astros Caravan in Oklahoma City. “I feel I can definitely play at that level and I can do very well. I've seen what they do, they way they pitch to you and they way you just go about your business on a daily basis.”
Martinez played just 53 games last season for Houston after being called up from Double-A Corpus Christi — bypassing Triple-A Oklahoma City.
Many feel Martinez could become the new face of the franchise as part of a rebuilding process and multiple changes in the front office.
That, however, is out of Martinez's control.
“In the sense of that, you hear it a lot,” he said. “‘You have a great opportunity here, you're going to be the face.' I feel like all of that stuff will take care of itself, really.
“Like I said, you've got to control your controllables. That's preparing yourself for the season and going out every day and giving it all you've got.”
The Astros were 21-34 after Martinez was promoted to replace the traded Hunter Pence. Martinez immediately opened on a tear and finished the season with a .274 batting average and six home runs.
And that was accomplished alongside Altuve, the shortest player on a major league roster at 5-foot-7, and Carpenter. Altuve hit .276 in 57 games after hitting .408 in Class-A Advanced Lancaster and .361 in Corpus Christi.
Carpenter, meanwhile, went 1-3 with a 2.93 ERA in 34 appearances after throwing 19 scoreless innings for the RedHawks. He now has a chance to win the closer's role.
“That's definitely an opportunity I would really, really like to have,” Carpenter said. “It's something that's definitely earned. It's not something that is going to be given to someone. I would definitely like the opportunity to compete for it. But it just comes down to what my abilities are best suited for, whether it be set-up man or as a closer or as a guy that's a sixth- or seventh-inning guy.”
And for many of the youthful Astros, it's all about being hungry in what is their first full season in the big leagues.
“It's definitely, like I said, a hungry team,” Martinez said. “Everyone that's going in there feels like it's too good to be true or they have that uncertainty.
“So you got to stay hungry, you can't let yourself slip. A lot of kids don't get this opportunity in a lot of organizations. So, I mean, the opportunity that we get here, everybody's going to go in there wanting it.”