Martinez isn’t bitter toward Astros
BOSTON - 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-seven series. “There’s really no animosity there. In a sense they did me a favor by allowing me to leave and play on another team.”
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 aces 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 RBI 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 Diamondbacks and was 14th in MVP voting despite playing just 62 games in the NL.
“I always believed he’s going to be the player he is right now,” said Astros second baseman Jose Altuve, who came up through the minors with Martinez.