|V-Mart on D&C: ‘Big respect’ for Varitek||03.02.10 at 12:19 pm ET|
Red Sox starting catcher Victor Martinez joined Dennis & Callahan on set in Fort Myers, Fla., to discuss some of the pressing issues of this spring training, including where and when he will be used, his contract situation and more.
Martinez also took a look back at his transition from Cleveland to Boston and how difficult it is to catch knuckleballer Tim Wakefield as compared to hitting him. To listen to the complete interview, click here.
Do you feel more relaxed this year, as opposed to last season, coming into a new place midseason?
Definitely, coming in right now, opening things up with the Red Sox, it’s a lot more comfortable for me. Obviously last year, I came in kind of late in the season, in the middle of the race, and it was a little tough for me because, like you’ve been saying, one thing is to face these guys, and it’s way different to be behind the plate for them. One guy who really helped me out was Jason Varitek, he’s really helped me out, telling me which pitch to call to assist the guy, when this guy’s in trouble, call this pitch, it’ll relax him a little bit, little stuff like that was a big help for me.
Doesn’t that say a lot about him to help you, when you’ll ultimately replace him?
Man, that’s what it shows to everybody — he has that ‘C’ on his chest for something. I really have a big amount of respect for Jason, and I really have a big amount of respect playing against him, the way he played the game. And now, just being his teammate, I have it even more now.
You looked very comfortable last season, had a great year. Are you ready to leave at the end of this season if that’s what it takes?
I don’t think we can start to talk about that right now, but I’m already making it clear — I really want to be a part of this winning team for years to come, but we’ll see what happens.
Josh Beckett says, “I just want to be happy.” He’s not worried about setting the bar for other players. Do you feel that way?
I already talked about this before. I don’t really care about free agency. It’s all in their hands, and what they want to do. We’ll see what happens.
Have you talked to them yet?
No. We haven’t talked anything about it.
Obviously the adjustment to the Red Sox pitching staff didn’t hurt you offensively. Were you happy with your performance batting-wise in the second half?
Obviously, if I said no, I’d be lying to you. But at the same time, when I got traded, I think I got traded in the worst moment on the season. I was in a big slump, and it was a great time to break that up when I got here. Like I said, [Jacoby] Ellsbury, [Dustin] Pedroia, those guys at first and third all day long, that’s something that makes you go up to the plate and not waste any at bat.
What’s the difference playing at Fenway as a Red Sox rather than an Indian?
It’s a big difference when you have all those great fans on your side then when you have them against you. I’ve been in both situations, and I really love to have those guys on my side. It’s a little easier.
How many games ideally would you like to be behind the plate?
I just focus on my body, work on my body, and the rest will take care of itself. I don’t really worry about that. I just want to be in the lineup and help the team win and like I said, I just want to be part of this, it’s going to be fun, it’s going to be a great season for everybody.
Does it matter where you play as far as output offensively? Do you feel any different depending on where you are?
Well, I don’t DH much, when I don’t catch, I play first. It doesn’t matter to me. I really enjoy both.
You’ve caught some great pitchers before, but a staff like this, have you seen this before? Is this the best in the game?
If it’s not, it’s pretty close. Like I said, for me and for a lot of people, pitching comes first in this game — pitching, defense and then the offense. We have a pretty good, competitive pitching staff, and I’m really excited, I’m really looking forward to this, I just can’t wait to get this team started. It’s going to be fun.
You had two Cy Young [winners] in Cleveland, none in Boston.
They all are Cy Young caliber, they’re right there, like I said, you just need to be healthy all season and the rest is going to take care of itself.
It would be silly to think every pitcher was easy to get adjusted to. Was there one that took you longer to figure out, like Wakefield?
You just named him — Wakefield. I’ve never caught a knuckleballer before, and just going right to one of the best knuckleballers in the game, that was really tough. The good thing for me was that I got to work a little bit on that in the bullpen and it really got me ready for Wake.
Are you really tired after catching Wake? Are you tense all the time?
When you catch Wake, you really have to be relaxed. You can’t be tense, you can’t be tired. You have to be as relaxed as you can get, you see the ball better and you react a little better.
Is it harder to hit him or catch him?
That’s a good question, I’ve faced him and now I get to catch him, and both are pretty tough.
If you’re making the lineup card, where do you bat?
Wherever they put me — it doesn’t matter if I hit in the leadoff spot or if I hit in the nine-hole, it doesn’t matter to me because I’m going to go to the plate with any mentality. I’m not going to throw any at-bat away, I’m just going to grind every at-bat and keep my approach — just go up there and be a tough out.
When did you become a switch-hitter?
I was like 8, 10 years old. I really have been the same from both sides, it just made a little more work than usual, but, I’ll take it.
What do you think about Fort Myers?
I like it. I live in Atlanta, my brother lives in Tampa, so I really like this area.
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