DETROIT — Nobody was hotter than J.D. Martinez before the All-Star break.
Martinez was hitting .346 with 13 home runs and 43 RBI and an OPS of 1.035.
Since the All-Star break, Martinez is hitting .263 with four home runs and 15 RBI and an OPS of .738.
"I’m getting pitched a lot differently now than I was," Martinez said.
However, as the pitchers have adjusted to Martinez, he’s made his own adjustment the last couple of weeks and the results are showing.
Martinez has hit safely in 11 of his last 12 games, batting .380 with seven runs scored, five doubles, two home runs and seven RBI.
That includes Martinez’s three-hit night against the New York Yankees Tuesday.
Martinez said opposing pitchers saw that he was hitting .429 with six home runs and 17 RBI on the first pitch.
"They’ve thrown a lot more balls easier in the count so now I’ve got to work the count so they fall behind and now they’ve got to throw something to hit," Martinez said.
Like most batters, Martinez is way better when he’s ahead in the count, batting .500 as opposed to .200 when he’s behind.
Martinez said the adjustment he made is simple in theory, a little harder in practice.
"Be more patient. Swing at my pitches. Not try to chase their pitches," Martinez said. "In the past, I’ve fallen behind really quickly, 0-2 right off the bat, or they get a strike and they’re expanding right away and then I start chasing."
Fellow outfielder Torii Hunter said Martinez is doing what the good hitters have to do.
"He’s swinging the bat well," Hunter said. "This is baseball. Nobody can do it every day. Nobody. Barry (Bonds) maybe? Nobody can do it every day. You’re going to have your times where you’re slumping or going through a little funk or you hit the ball hard and you can’t get any hits."
Martinez said he doesn’t have to look far to find a patient player to emulate at the plate. He pointed to the team’s other Martinez, Victor, sitting at his locker kitty-corner to J.D.’s.
"Victor’s very smart because at the end of the day, as weird and ironic as it sounds, he doesn’t have anyone behind him," Martinez said. "It’s me but at the same time, who am I? This is my first year really putting up decent numbers. He goes up there knowing how they’re going to pitch him. They throw him a lot of off-speed and they throw him a lot of things to see if he can get himself out. He takes his walks and when they fall behind, they’ve either got to throw him something and he’ll hit it or he’ll walk. I think that’s who you’ve got to learn from."
JD A COOL CUSTOMER
J.D. Martinez is hot at the plate but he also showed how cool he can be in a stressful situation.
In the eighth inning, Yankees reliever Esmil Rogers threw a pitch that nearly got Martinez in the head.
Martinez returned to the batter’s box and flew out to center field.
"I talked to a bunch of the guys and it just doesn’t look right in that situation," Martinez said. "If that’s the case, just (throw it) anywhere but not the head. That’s when it gets scary."
Tigers manager Brad Ausmus didn’t think it was intentional.
"That was my gut reaction," Ausmus said. "Based on the pitcher’s response after he let go of the ball, I thought it was accidental. But this is the major leagues. You’ve gotta be able to command your pitches, for the most part. Going anywhere near the head is obviously frowned-upon."
Rogers approached Martinez after the at-bat.
"He said something like, ‘Good at-bat, my bad, it got away from me’ — I don’t know," Martinez said. "I was still in the heat of the moment and I really wasn’t paying attention to him. You know how when someone is talking to you and you are still like — you really don’t hear it."
Martinez said he accepted the apology.
"I have no hard feelings," Martinez said. "Anytime a team tries to dust you off, tries to get you off your plan, scare you, make you uncomfortable or whatever, if I let that happen then it’s on me."
SORIA MAKING PROGRESS
Tigers reliever Joakim Soria, on the 15-day disabled list with a left oblique strain, appears to be making progress.
Soria threw again Wednesday.
"He threw (Tuesday)," Ausmus said. "He threw in Tampa, he threw in Minnesota. (Wednesday’s) the first day he’s throwing back to back."
MOYA HAS SCARE, IS OK
Tigers outfield prospect Steven Moya of the Erie Seawolves (Double-A) was hit by a fastball in the right knee Tuesday night and was in severe pain.
Moya remained in the game for another inning but left after that to get X-rays, which were negative, according to Erie Times-News reporter Tom Reisenweber.
Moya, who has a big bruise, was in Erie’s lineup Wednesday, batting fifth and playing in right field.
ARIZONA FALL LEAGUE
Moya is among the Tigers’ minor league players slated to participate in the Arizona Fall League.
Erie manager Lance Parrish will manage the Glendale Desert Dogs.
Joining Moya will be right-handers Zac Reininger, Chad Smith and Drew VerHagen, left-hander Joe Mantiply, infielder Devon Travis and outfielder Daniel Fields.