Martin expects big things in second full season with Rangers
MAR 07, 2014 5:31p ET
Texas centerfielder Leonys Martin talks a lot about how he's more comfortable this spring as he prepares for his second full season in the majors.
All you have to do is speak to him to know that's the case.
Last season Martin did most of his interviews through a translator as he wasn't comfortable answering questions in English.
That's not the case anymore, as Martin handles questions as easily as he goes to the gap in centerfield to try and track down a ball.
The Rangers are going to need Martin's play to continue to improve too if he's to be a catalyst in the Texas lineup. He'll bat ninth and serve as what manager Ron Washington calls the team's second leadoff hitter and Martin is ready for the task.
"I feel so comfortable right now," he said "I played for a year and it was a good experience for me. I feel so relaxed. I know a lot better how I can do in the big leagues. I feel so comfortable and I feel so relaxed. I've tried to work hard. I've tried to get better, help my team and play hard every single game."
Martin, who turned 26 Thursday, showed flashes of what he could do last season. While he finished the year hitting .260, there were stretches that served as proof as to why the Rangers gave him a five-year major league deal in 2011. Martin was a career .314 hitter in five seasons in Cuba.
He batted .333 during a 55-game period that included a 15-game hitting streak. He also stole 36 bases, with all 36 coming after the middle of May. He also showed off his arm, as his 14 outfield assists were the third most the majors.
He had rough patched too, though, as he batted just over .200 the final month of the season and he committed five errors in the outfield.
Washington isn't expecting Martin to be perfect this season, but he does think he'll show improvement.
"I hope that he's gotten better," he said. "That's all you can do. Keep giving him the work that is right. Hopefully he is able to take that work and be better from it. That's how you get better. We'll repeat and repeat and repeat and repeat and hopefully going through what he went through last year, almost a full year at the major league level, improvement comes from that."
Getting used to the grind of playing every day was a big adjustment for Martin. He played in 147 games and had 457 at-bats for Texas in 2013. He hadn't played in more than 79 games in either of his first two seasons in the organization and hadn't had more than 310 at-bats.
Washington wasn't surprised Martin's production fell off late in the season.
"It was something he hasn't been through before and adjustments," Washington said. The big leagues adjust to him and he didn't adjust as fast as you hope. He's capable of adjusting and that's what's going to come into this year."
Martin agreed with Washington's assessment, and he spent his offseason working on his offense playing winter ball in the Dominican.
"I have to focus on every single game and try to do my job to 110 percent and try and get better," said Martin, who came into Friday hitting .200 in 10 spring at-bats.
Martin has been able to focus on baseball despite offseason revelations that he was held for ransom in Mexico after he left Cuba. Martin declined to get into the incident other than saying it was part of his life and that his family is safe.
His sole focus now is on getting the Rangers back to the postseason.
"I just try to help my team any way I can," he said. "The last couple of years we've lost for the playoffs in the last game. We have to work hard this year and try to get in the playoffs."