PHOENIX (AP) J.D. Martinez got a little lost trying to find Chase Field on Friday. The Arizona Diamondbacks’ new outfielder hasn’t spent much time in the Phoenix area, and he found himself driving while looking at his phone for directions.
Once he arrived, parking was a minor issue. He also had to adjust to a new home clubhouse, get his banged-up left hand checked out and meet with his new manager.
Martinez then sat down before a crowded room and fielded questions about how he fits in with his new team, how he changed his hitting approach from his days in Houston to the past 2 1/2 seasons in Detroit and how he’ll prepare for National League pitchers he’s never faced.
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Martinez – who arrived in a trade with the Tigers earlier this week – was available to play on Friday in the Diamondbacks’ series opener against the Washington Nationals. He was hit on the hand with a pitch in the fourth inning on Wednesday in Cincinnati, his first game with Arizona.
”Definitely a scary situation. I was already nervous as it was for the day,” Martinez said. ”Anytime you come in and you meet a bunch of new people, you’re overwhelmed with that, and the game’s already something to be nervous about as it is. To have that, it was like, ”What just happened?”
X-rays were negative for a broken bone, and Martinez was hoping to play right away, although he wasn’t in Friday’s lineup.
Martinez hit .305 with Detroit this season after putting up a .307 average in 2016. One of his first orders of business was what he called ”homework,” or enthusiastically poring over video of NL pitchers.
Martinez said he’s not thinking about his impending free agency.
”I try to keep it small tasks, small goals,” he said. ”Free agency, it all takes care of itself. When you go out there and win and perform well, then you worry about free agency when it gets there.”
Martinez said the difference between his time in Houston, where he hit .251 with 24 homers in three seasons, and now is ”night and day.”
”I changed a lot of my stuff as a hitter,” Martinez said. ”I redid my whole swing. Took it into Detroit and it worked, so here I am.”
The Diamondbacks are a younger team than the Tigers, and manager Torey Lovullo told Martinez to speak up if needed because he’s a veteran.
”He can change the game with one swing of the bat,” Lovullo said. ”He’s an accomplished hitter. He’s not just a slugger. He walks up there with a very good game plan.”
Lovullo looks forward to having Martinez in the lineup regularly.
”We’re very thankful, and we’ve taken a collective sigh of relief knowing that he’s just fine,” Lovullo said.
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