He talked at length, sometimes through tears, about how much he loved the Indians organization, the city, the fans. But he also mentioned how much he wanted to win, something that isn’t happening anytime soon in Cleveland.
The difference between Martinez’s old home and new home was on display in his return to Cleveland on Monday night. Playing in Progressive Field for the first time since the trade last July, Martinez doubled, singled and drove in the Red Sox’ third run with a long sacrifice fly, a key component in Boston’s 4-1 victory.
As cool as he looked in improving to 25-for-50 (.500) since May 19, Martinez admitted it was not your average Monday night affair.
"It feels, you know, weird," he said. "I tell you the truth, I was a little nervous, too. As soon as I jumped on the field things got a little fluid and I just enjoyed the game."
In front of a paltry crowd that numbered less than 15,000, Martinez was given a nice ovation before grounding out to end the first. He then led off the fourth with his 96th double in the park he once called home and singled to start the sixth.
A big sacrifice fly by Martinez in the seventh put Boston ahead 3-0 and gave the catcher 10 RBIs in his last eight games. All this just hours after he pulled into the Progressive Field parking lot riddled with butterflies.
"Yeah, I’m sure he was excited. He spent a lot of good times here," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "He’s got a lot of people who love him here, as we can understand. It’s just like we feel about him. Coming back to your first team, kinda like family. Nice to see him do well."
In addition to having another solid night at the plate, Martinez put to rest the rumors that he and right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka were at odds, or at least, not suitable to be paired with one another.
It was four starts ago that Matsuzaka was beat up in the Bronx, and both he and Martinez hinted after the game that there were disagreements over pitch selection. Matsuzaka was matched up with Jason Varitek for his next three starts, although he did give credit to Martinez for offering some usable advice in a recent conversation.
Whatever was said during that rough start in New York or in the tete-a-tete days later, it seems as if the two are on the same page again. With Martinez mixing things up and keeping Matsuzaka committed to the strategy of staying aggressive in the zone.
"He was on from the first pitch," Martinez said of Matsuzaka, who yielded four hits and struck out five in eight scoreless innings.
Martinez, who caught two Cy Young Award winners while with Cleveland, is no stranger to helping out a hurler at Progressive Field or knocking the ball all over the park. He just wasn’t completely accustomed to doing so in another uniform.