OKC RedHawks: J.D. Martinez sent to RedHawks to make adjustments with the bat

Martinez was one of the Astros' opening-day outfielders, but he struggled at the plate. Houston sent its talented prospect to OKC in August to work out the kinks.
by Michael Baldwin Published: September 2, 2012

photo - Houston Astros' J.D. Martinez (14) reacts after striking out swinging against Washington Nationals relief pitcher Ryan Mattheus during the seventh inning of a baseball game in Washington, Monday, April 16, 2012. The Nationals beat the Astros 6-3. (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt) ORG XMIT: NAT108
Houston Astros' J.D. Martinez (14) reacts after striking out swinging against Washington Nationals relief pitcher Ryan Mattheus during the seventh inning of a baseball game in Washington, Monday, April 16, 2012. The Nationals beat the Astros 6-3. (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt) ORG XMIT: NAT108

“I changed some things in my swing that maybe I shouldn't have changed,” Martinez said. “Last year was good. I just have to mature as a hitter instead of trying to reinvent myself. Now that I've experienced it, I can work on things to get better.”

With the Triple-A season nearly over, the Astros haven't announced whether they'll recall Martinez when rosters expanded in September.

“He's a hitter,” Lawless said. “He's strong. He can hit the ball in the gaps and hit home runs. There aren't many guys like J.D. who can hit a baseball like he can. It's just a matter of getting back to doing that consistently. He hit almost .280 in the big leagues. You don't forget how to hit.”

Lawless said players can get of their comfort zone, try harder and fail.

“It's just a matter of relaxing, seeing the ball and hitting the ball,” Lawless said.

A long list of Major League players have experienced the same process. They've returned to the minors to make the necessary adjustments to become consistently productive in the majors.

Philadelphia right-hander Roy Halladay, a Cy Young winner, early in his career was sent down to Class A and worked his back up.

Texas Rangers slugger Nelson Cruz was once considered a four-star player — too good for Triple-A but a mediocre hitter in the big leagues. He spent the 2008 season with the RedHawks and worked on weaknesses at the plate. Cruz hit 37 homers that season for Oklahoma City. He is now one of the American League's top mashers.

The same can be said for Brett Wallace and Jarrod Saltalamacchia, both former RedHawks who needed polish but are now back in the majors.

“Up there, you have a lot of pressure,” Martinez said. “The coaches and front office, everyone wants you to do well. If I keep learning and iron some things out I can get to where I want to be.”


by Michael Baldwin
Reporter
Mike Baldwin has been a sports reporter for The Oklahoman since 1982. Mike graduated from Okmulgee High School in 1974 and attended Oklahoma Christian University, graduating with a journalism degree in 1978. Mike's first job was sports editor...
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