Martinez prepares for Cooperstown moment just like career
SEATTLE (AP) — Edgar Martinez trained for every aspect of his career.
As a player, he spent nearly two decades doing daily eye exercises to overcome strabismus, a condition that prevented his eyes from seeing in tandem. Rather than letting that become an excuse that kept him out of baseball, Martinez became arguably the best right-handed hitter of his generation and the prototype for what a designated hitter can be.
As a coach, he was a meticulous planner, often one of the first in the clubhouse daily. Before taking swings during batting practice — more than a decade after his last game — Martinez spent a week taking BP. He wasn’t about to be unprepared before putting on a show players and fellow coaches wouldn’t forget.
Why should his training and preparation be any different for his first speech as a Hall of Famer?
“I think it’s like anything if you want to do it right and do well you have to practice,” Martinez said. “In a way it’s true, it’s like that. You’re preparing for some performance, whether it’s hitting in a game or a speech.”
Martinez will go into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday, the first player to spend his entire career with the Seattle Mariners — 18 seasons in all — and find his way into Cooperstown.
His numbers are staggering yet often overlooked. Most of his career was spent tucked away in the Pacific Northwest on a team that until the magical 1995 season, when the franchise made its first playoff appearance in dramatic fashion, got little notice on the national stage.
Martinez hit .312 with 309 home runs in 2,055 career games with the Mariners. His numbers would be even more impressive if he had broken into the majors earlier. Martinez never played more than 100 games in the majors until he was 27.
“Day in and day out, he was prepared,” teammate Ken Griffey Jr. said. “Thirty, 40 years ago a DH was an older guy who was on his way out, but a fan favorite, they wanted to keep him around. Now, it’s guys who can flat hit and get a chance to go out and play every day.
“And he made that all possible.”
Whether it’s the pride of joining the fraternity of Puerto Rican players or his affection for the only franchise he’s ever been associated with, Martinez is grateful to those who helped along the way.
“A lot of people play a role in my success and just keep it condensed and within 12 minutes. I’m close to having it just right,” Martinez said of his induction speech.