Martinez isn’t bit­ter to­ward Astros

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - - Sports - Jimmy Golen

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.

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