Martinez holds no grudge

MVP can­di­date grate­ful for de­par­ture from Astros in ’14

Albany Times Union - - MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL -

J.D. Martinez wants to thank the Hous­ton-astros—not-get-back-at-them—for re­leas­ing him when he was strug­gling to make him­self into a star.

The Red Sox slug­ger cred­its his grow­ing pains in Hous­ton for teach­ing him “how to fail,” a les­son he cred­its with trans­form­ing him into an MVP can­di­date who helped Bos­ton win a fran­chise-record 108 games and reach the AL Cham­pi­onship Se­ries against his for­mer team.

“My fail­ures in Hous­ton is what made me who I am,” Martinez said Fri­day, a day be­fore the Astros and Red Sox open the best-of-7 se­ries. “There’s re­ally no an­i­mos­ity there. In a sense they did me a fa­vor by al­low­ing me to leave.”

It will be the sec­ond straight year the Red Sox and Astros meet in the post­sea­son — last year it was the ALDS — and the sec­ond straight year that Chris Sale will go against Justin Ver­lan­der in the opener.

The big­gest dif­fer­ence this time: Bos­ton has Martinez on its side.

And the Astros could have. Martinez made his big-league de­but for Hous­ton in 2011, driv­ing in 28 runs in his first full month in the ma­jors. Af­ter play­ing part time the next two years — hit­ting 18 homers with 91 RBIS in 199 games — he was 26 years old and bat­ting .167 in the spring of 2014 when the Astros re­leased him, pre­fer­ring to give the at-bats to top prospect George Springer.

Martinez landed with Detroit that sea­son and by 2015 he was an All-star, hit­ting 38 homers with 102 RBIS. He hit 45 homers last year, when he was traded from the Tigers to the Di­a­mond­backs and was 14th in MVP vot­ing de­spite play­ing just 62 games in the NL.

Satur­day night’s opener will be a re­match of Game 1 of the ALDS last year, when the Astros jumped on Sale for seven runs in five in­nings.

Sale and Ver­lan­der both came out of the bullpen in Game 4, with the Red Sox lefty out­pitch­ing the Astros ace be­fore tir­ing in his fifth in­ning of relief and tak­ing the loss as the Red Sox were elim­i­nated.

Elise Amen­dola / As­so­ci­ated Press

Bos­ton’s J.D. Martinez says his fail­ures with the Astros helped make him the player he is to­day. His cur­rent team takes on his for­mer team in Game 1 of the Amer­i­can League Cham­pi­onship Se­ries on Satur­day at Fen­way Park.

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