After clinching a spot in the American League Division Series, manager Alex Cora had to decide whether or not J.D. Martinez would be healthy enough to make the Boston Red Sox’s 26-man roster.
The designated hitter was inactive for their Wild Card Game after spraining his ankle while trotting out to play left field in their final game of the season. Though he was sporting an ankle brace, Martinez returned for the series against the Tampa Bay Rays.
But to compensate in case the slugger couldn’t get enough out of his plant foot, Cora decided to move Martinez to the six-spot in the order.
“He did it at the time because I kind of told him — I said I don’t know what’s going to happen with my ankle,” Martinez said Thursday, via ASAP Sports. “I don’t want to tell you put me in, and then all of a sudden, I don’t know if I can go. Because you can’t replicate swinging the bat at a 98-mile-an-hour fastball until you go into a game. So I think he kind of — you know, he is, like, all right.”
Martinez feared he wouldn’t produce higher up in the order, and could leave Xander Bogaerts or Rafael Devers “out to dry” in a situation where they were on base.
Cora asked him how he felt about batting sixth, moving Alex Verdugo before him.
“I said that’s fine,” Martinez relayed. “Whatever. I don’t care. Then we went out and put up 14 runs. So then he is, like, well, I guess I got to run this one back. So then we went out and put up more runs, so he’s kind of been doing it.”
In three postseason games with that order against Tampa, Martinez batted .467 with four RBIs and a home run in 15 at bats. Along with that, the Red Sox haven’t dropped a game yet, putting up 26 runs in three games.
So far, so good.
“Honestly, I think it’s better,” Martinez said. “I think being able to split righty, lefty, righty, lefty, I think it’s — especially with the team with Tampa and the team with Houston, a very analytic team, they’re going to be looking for the best matchups constantly. And I think they’re going to have to choose at some point if they want a righty to face Verdugo or a lefty to face either me or Bogey. You know what I mean? They’ve got to bite the bullet somewhere. For me personally, I think it’s a better lineup for the team.”
Hopefully it gets them past the Houston Astros, too. Game 1 of the AL Championship Series is Friday night at 8:07 p.m. ET.