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V. Martinez ‘obviously’ would like to stay with Sox

02.18.10 at 1:24 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Red Sox catcher Victor Martinez, who arrived at the team’s minor league training facility on Thursday, suggested that “it’s all in [the Red Sox'] hands” as to whether or not he will discuss a contract extension with the club during spring training. The 31-year-old did make clear that he would “obviously” like to re-sign and remain with a club with which he found a nearly instantaneous fit after being traded from the Indians at last year’s trade deadline.

“Who don’t want to be here in the long term?” asked Martinez. “This is the organization, this is the team that everybody wishes to play here, especially a team that is always in the race, always in the playoffs. As a baseball player, that’s what you want. That’s what you work for. You work really hard to make it to the playoffs and get a ring.”

Even so, Martinez would prefer not to devote too much of his attention on the questions surrounding his future beyond the 2010 season. This is, after all, his first year taking part in spring training with the Red Sox. It is an opportunity for him to learn his new pitching staff at some length, rather than the shotgun education that he received after being traded to Boston at last year’s trade deadline. Though the process of learning a new group of pitchers in the middle of the season went about as well as Martinez could have hoped, thanks in no small part to the tutelage of teammate Jason Varitek, Martinez is now looking forward to the opportunity to gain a more complete familiarity with the Sox’ staff.

“This is the time to work on the stuff that you really want to work in, especially with the pitching staff,” said Martinez. “I got into Boston, and it was kind of late into the season. When you’re in the middle of the race, you don’t really have the chance to work on something. But now, definitely, it’s the perfect time to get to know the pitching staff and to get to work with them.

“One thing is hitting against them, and another thing is to be behind the plate for them and to call the game for them. … At the same time, Jason Varitek makes it a lot easier for me. He was unbelievable. He came to me and kind of explained pretty much every guy. That was a big help. It was a big help for me.”

Martinez has already been pronounced the Sox’ everyday catcher for the coming season, supplanting a role that Jason Varitek has held every season since 1999. A return to everyday catching duties will represent a bit of a departure from the 2009 season, when Martinez played first base in 70 games and caught in 85, posting strong offensive numbers (.303/.381/.480/.861, 23 homers, 108 RBIs) in a year in which he set a career high with 155 games played.

Yet the idea of spending most of his time behind the plate is also familiar to Martinez, who spent more than 80 percent of his time behind the dish prior to the 2009 season. Given that experience, Martinez suggested that he would have no problems with the idea of an expanded workload behind the plate in 2010.

“Remember — I used to catch a lot,” he said. “I don’t think I’m going to have any problems with my body.”

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