Boston Red Sox designated hitter J.D. Martinez hasn’t looked like his usual self during the 2020 abbreviated season.
And according to hitting coach Tim Hyers, Martinez has fallen into some bad habits. They have nothing to do with his work ethic, but lost mechanics in Martinez’s lower half that have made him late on fastballs.
“(Martinez has) been diligent the same way he’s been in the past, I know this kind of sounds like an excuse but he’s fell in some bad habits,” Hyers on Sunday said in his Zoom conference ahead of the Red Sox’s series finale against the New York Yankees.
“He’s trying to deal with his back side, we call it his back hip, he just jumps off his backside and creating some length in his wing on the back side. And that’s the reason he’s late to fastballs. I know he’s working on it. Last night was a lot better. He’s tried a few things, a lot of them have failed, we’ve worked on trying to be shorter and I think finishing out this last week he’s just trying to kill some of those habits and not trying to do too much.
“His lower half, not to get too technical, but when you drip and you lose your foundation and you lose that connection with the ground, he’s just trying to create power with his hands. And you can see the length that he’s just laid on some fastballs that he normally hits and hits well.”
Martinez has 37 hits and only five home runs, batting just .206 on the shortened season.
The three-time Silver Slugger award winner has struggled all year, and has noted that the lack of in-game video has made in-game adjustments more difficult for him. Hyers thinks Martinez’s slump is a culmination of that as well as a few other factors, including building a new routine ahead of this season and a lack of confidence after his slow start.
“It’s a byproduct of I think a lot of things, Hyers said. “He sees those big moments and like all of us, he wants to do well and say, ‘This is my chance, I’m going to do some damage here.’ And he jumps out of his legs and he’s not staying disciplined with his mechanics. And when you create some bad habits, in that battle with the pitcher, those bad habits show their ugly head a lot and he’s got to get back to being disciplined and not trying to do too much and carry the team with one at bat. Typical hitters, when they struggle, those times they want to get things back and they try to get three its with one at bat and you can’t do it. Just trying to do too much in the batters box, and I know us as hitting coaches preach one pitch at a time, one at bat at a time, you can’t control what happened in the past you can only control what you can control and that’s the next pitch that’s coming up. But that’s easy for us to say and not as easy when you’re in the batter’s box with the pressure and the game on the line.”
With only seven games left in the season, Hyers shared how Martinez is motivated to hit the ground running in the offseason to improve on this year, but will still take lessons out of these struggles.
“I think this year is a good learning experience also for him,” Hyers said. “You can’t drag negativity from this season into next year but you take things from every season.”
Thumbnail photo via Paul Rutherford/USA TODAY Sports Images