Victor Martinez settling into his new digs


Victor Martinez settling into his new digs

Associated Press
DETROIT -- As Victor Martinezprepares to spend more time at designated hitter, he can look back onadvice he once received from former teammate Travis Hafner, who hasbeen among baseball's best at that specialized role."He told me that you have to do alot. Maybe people think that it's easy to be a DH. It's hard," Martinezsaid. "You have to keep warm. You've got to go into the weight room andrun the bike and do stuff, stretch yourself. You can't just sit therefor a half an hour, an hour, until you get at bat again and just go outthere and hit. It's not like that."
With a smile on his face andexcitement in his voice, Martinez was at Comerica Park on Saturday forTigerFest, Detroit's annual winter fan event. The Tigers signedMartinez this offseason, and they hope the 32-year-old switch-hitterwill be part of a powerful middle of the batting order that alsoincludes Miguel Cabrera and Magglio Ordonez.Martinez has been a catcherthroughout his career, but general manager Dave Dombrowski has saidhe'll be the team's primary DH. He's still expected to fill in behindthe plate at times, but Martinez may need to adjust after starting 106games at catcher last season with the Boston Red Sox."I came here to win," Martinez said."If they need me to play DH, I'll be a DH. If they need me behind theplate, I'll be behind the plate."Martinez hit .302 with 20 home runsand 79 RBIs in 127 games with Boston last season. If he produces likethat again, it will be a nice boost for a Detroit team that is tryingto contend for the AL Central title after going 81-81 in 2010.Martinez is familiar with Detroitafter playing for division foe Cleveland from 2002-09. He hit acareer-high 25 homers for the Indians in 2007, when they came withinone victory of reaching the World Series with him as their catcher andHafner as the designated hitter."I was in this division pretty muchmy whole career, and I always liked the way the Tigers approached theirorganization, their team," Martinez said. "This organization - theyjust want to get better."Alex Avila is expected to beDetroit's No. 1 catcher. He hit just .228 last year, but he'll be eightyears younger than Martinez on opening day and should have everyopportunity to improve as a hitter.Avila says he's looking forward to working with Martinez."It's going to be a nice marriagebetween us, as far as the catching and both of us working with thepitching staff, and obviously producing offensively to help the teamwin," Avila said. "It should make for a good partnership."Martinez, who can also play firstbase, started more games at catcher last season than he had since 2007,and it didn't appear to hurt his hitting. Still, the Tigers added himfor his bat, not his glove, and they probably wouldn't mind reducinghis grueling workload behind the plate if it helps him stay healthy andeffective offensively."It's tough," Detroit manager JimLeyland said. "There's an old saying that the first couple at-batsduring the course of the game weren't too bad, but for catchers, as thegame went on, the third and fourth at-bats, it gets a little tough."Perhaps the one concern surroundingMartinez is his career .225 average at Comerica Park. He's hit onlyfour homers there in 169 at-bats.Martinez is quick to creditDetroit's pitchers for that - and now he won't have to face themanymore. As for the ballpark's effect on his home run total, he'll justtry to hit the ball to the gaps and see what happens."I say myself, I'm not a home runhitter. I hit my 20, but I'm more a line drive hitter," Martinez said."I might hit some triples. Watch out."That's quite a statement from Martinez, who has three triples in his entire career, but right now anything seems possible."I'm like a little kid with a newtoy," Martinez said. "I just want to get this thing started. I can'twait. This is going to be a fun ride."

Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, Ivan Rodriguez elected to Hall of Fame


Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, Ivan Rodriguez elected to Hall of Fame

NEW YORK - Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez were elected to baseball's Hall of Fame on Wednesday, earning the honor as Trevor Hoffman and Vladimir Guerrero fell just short.

Steroids-tainted stars Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens were passed over for the fifth straight year by the Baseball Writers' Association of America. But they received significantly more votes this time and could be in position to gain election in coming years.

Bagwell, on the ballot for the seventh time after falling 15 votes short last year, received 381 of 442 votes for 86.2 percent. Players needed 75 percent, which came to 332 votes this year.

In his 10th and final year of eligibility, Raines was on 380 ballots (86 percent). Rodriguez received 336 votes (76 percent) to join Johnny Bench in 1989 as the only catchers elected on the first ballot.

Hoffman was five votes shy and Guerrero 15 short.

Edgar Martinez was next at 58.6 percent, followed by Clemens at 54.1 percent, Bonds at 53.8 percent, Mike Mussina at 51.8 percent, Curt Schilling at 45 percent, Lee Smith at 34.2 percent and Manny Ramirez at 23.8 percent.

Players will be inducted July 30 during ceremonies at Cooperstown along with former Commissioner Bud Selig and retired Kansas City and Atlanta Braves executive John Schuerholz, both elected last month by a veterans committee.

Bagwell was a four-time All-Star who spent his entire career with Houston, finishing with a .297 batting average, 401 homers and 1,401 RBIs.

Raines, fifth in career stolen bases, was a seven-time All-Star and the 1986 NL batting champion. He spent 13 of 23 big league seasons with the Montreal Expos, who left Canada to become the Washington Nationals for the 2005 season, and joins Andre Dawson and Gary Carter as the only players to enter the Hall representing the Expos.

Raines hit .294 with a .385 on-base percentage, playing during a time when Rickey Henderson was the sport's dominant speedster.

Rodriguez, a 14-time All-Star who hit .296 with 311 homers and 1,332 RBIs, was never disciplined for PEDs but former Texas teammate Jose Canseco alleged in a 2005 book that he injected the catcher with steroids. Asked whether he was on the list of players who allegedly tested positive for steroids during baseball's 2003 survey, Rodriguez said in 2009: "Only God knows."

Bonds, a seven-time MVP who holds the season and career home run records, received 36.2 percent in his initial appearance, in 2013, and jumped from 44.3 percent last year. Clemens, a seven-time Cy Young Award winner, rose from 45.2 percent last year.

Bonds was indicted on charges he lied to a grand jury in 2003 when he denied using PEDs, but a jury failed to reach a verdict on three counts he made false statements and convicted him on one obstruction of justice count, finding he gave an evasive answer. The conviction was overturned appeal in 2015.

Clemens was acquitted on one count of obstruction of Congress, three counts of making false statements to Congress and two counts of perjury, all stemming from his denials of drug use.

A 12-time All-Star on the ballot for the first time, Ramirez was twice suspended for violating baseball's drug agreement. He helped the Boston Red Sox win World Series titles in 2004 and `07, the first for the franchise since 1918, and hit .312 with 555 home runs and 1,831 RBIs in 19 big league seasons.

Several notable players will join them in the competition for votes in upcoming years: Chipper Jones in 2018, Mariano Rivera and Roy Halladay in 2019, and Derek Jeter in 2020.

Sam Travis among nine non-roster invitees added to Red Sox spring training roster

Sam Travis among nine non-roster invitees added to Red Sox spring training roster

The Red Sox have invited nine non-roster players to spring training, the team announced Wednesday. The team now has a total of 15 non-roster invitees. 

Added Wednesday to the spring training roster were outfielder/infielder Allen Craig, third baseman Rafael Devers, first baseman Sam Travis, catcher Jordan Procyshen, outfielders Brian Bogusevic and Rusney Castillo, and right-handed pitchers Kyle Kendrick, Chandler Shepherd and Ben Taylor.

In addition to 39 players on the 40-man roster, the Sox have the following breakdown of non-roster invitees: 

Pitchers: Kyle Kendrick, Edgar Olmos, Chandler Shepherd, Ben Taylor, Marcus Walden
Catchers: Dan Butler, Jake DePew, Jordan Procyshen
Infielders: Rafael Devers, Matt Dominguez, Sam Travis
Outfielders: Brian Bogusevic, Rusney Castillo, Allen Craig, Junior Lake