J.D. Martinez might be playing his final game at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark on Monday.
The RedHawks' regular season finale, a Labor Day matinee at 11 a.m. against Round Rock, might be the final tuneup for a talented outfielder. Martinez skipped Triple-A last season but was sent to Oklahoma City by the Houston Astros a month ago after he experienced the first extended slump of his professional career.
Martinez has been tweaking his swing and plans to return to the majors for good next season.
“Obviously, I was disappointed at first,” Martinez said. “Once you go up, you never want to go back (to the minors). I got a little down. It took me a couple of days to put it behind me. And then it was time to go to work, spend a lot of time in the (batting) cage and grind things out.”
RedHawks interim manager Tom Lawless coached Martinez last season in Double-A Corpus Christi before Martinez was promoted to Houston.
“Players understand it's a game of performance at the big league level,” Lawless said. “If you don't perform, they're going to find someone who can perform. In J.D.'s case, he always hit at every level. He never failed. Now he's failed.
“It's all mental. A lot of guys hit the wall in A-ball, or they fail in Double-A before they rebound and figure it out. He never had that. He failed at the Major League level. That's a tough thing to do to come back down and jump start. It may take a little time.”
Martinez compiled dazzling stats last year in Double-A. He also had some success with the Astros, batting .274 with six home runs and 35 RBIs.
This season, he hit .235 with 11 home runs and 54 RBIs in 102 games for Houston before being assigned to Oklahoma City in early August.
Martinez's stats haven't improved with the RedHawks, but he feels he's made progress.
“It's going well,” Martinez said. “I'm just trying to iron some things out, work on things you can't do up there. At that level it's all about winning. In the minor leagues you can work on things. We've been trying to shorten my swing, spread out (my stance) a little.”
Martinez said he might have tried to do too much during the offseason.