On Monday, Victor Martinez returned to Cleveland for the first time since the Tribe shipped him off to Boston at the 2009 MLB trade deadline. Emotions ran high for the catcher, who had spent his entire career up to that point with the Indians, but he didn’t let it interfere with his production at the plate — or behind it.
Martinez went 2-for-4 with an RBI, raising his averageto .298 in his first full season with Boston.
For more on Martinez’s emotions as he returned to his former home, plus Daniel Bard‘s role while Jonathan Papelbon is on the bereavement list, read on.
What do you think it was like for Victor Martinez to return to Cleveland?
–Mike, Lincoln, Mass.
Very strange. I think the most difficult thing was walking into the visitors’ clubhouse. We were standing there when he walked in with his son, and he had a very torn look about him. Many of his teammates and coaching staff are gone from last year’s team, but the security staff and clubhouse guys remain the same, and those relationships are very strong. I think comfort is a big thing for many players, and Victor was very comfortable in Cleveland. That said, I really do think he has become comfortable in Boston, which is not always a given. I do think he would like to stay in Boston now that he is here, beyond this year and for the future.
Are the Red Sox finding their identity yet?
–Megan, Foxboro, Mass.
I think so. I think winning will do that, and they have been winning. When you are losing, nothing clicks, and that includes team chemistry. It amazes me how much better teams seem to get along and form a personality when they are winning. Losing generates nothing but bad things, and everything goes under the microscope. So yes, I think this team is starting to show that it is a team as it has started to pick up steam. I think that without question, one issue that, to some degree, still exists is that you have a few former leaders of this club who are now role players. That is and was a tough hurdle.
Is Progressive Field the least-attended stadium you have been to so far this season?
–David, Wareham, Mass.
It is close. I think Toronto was bad, and I know that Tampa Bay was not great — and for the team it has, that is stunning. But I understand it from a fan standpoint in Cleveland. Several years ago, the fan base was asked to be patient as the team reloaded and went young — and the Indians did make a run in 2007, as we know, losing to Boston in the ALCS. But the Indians did nothing beyond that and lost or traded the team that was rebuilt to succeed. They fired Eric Wedge and have started over again, but with older free agent types like Austin Kearns, Mike Redmond and Russell Branyan. So the fans are not impressed, and as a result, the crowds are highly unimpressive.
With Jonathan Papelbon away, is Daniel Bard the closer?
–Kerry, Wellesley, Mass.
I would say yes. On Monday, Bard was used in a non-save situation, but he was used nonetheless. I think Terry Francona will rely on matchups as well. I think Bard, if rested, will be the guy because he can get out lefties and righties with his great fastball, slider and changeup. He is, without question, a closer in waiting. However, you cannot run him out there everyday, so some nights, you will see a combination of guys. I did find it interesting during the offseason that in an interview, Bard had mentioned that he is not ready to be a full-time closer; he said he needs to watch how the guys in front of him do their business and see how they get ready in order to have that closer mentality. At the time, he was referring to both Billy Wagner and Papelbon, who were on the roster.
Has Daisuke Matsuzaka figured it out, and can we expect this to continue?
–William, Dorchester, Mass.
I hope so, but with Dice-K, you just don’t really know. I think it is important to realize that as he has become more consistent, he has — with the exception of Philadelphia — done it against teams that are really struggling and have been very aggressive. However, they are swinging because they are seeing strikes, and as a result, Dice-K’s pitch count, for the first time, has remained lower than usual and he is going much deeper into games. I think the important thing is he is buying into what John Farrell has prescribed as an approach, and because he is seeing favorable results, he is sticking with it.
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