Star slugger J.D. Martinez went 0-for-2 in his spring training debut for the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday, just three weeks before Opening Day.
“He’s not behind at all,” manager Alex Cora said.
“He was designated for assignment four years ago [by the Astros, at the end of spring training in 2014], and now he’s going to hit in the middle of the lineup for the Boston Red Sox, with a team that has a chance to win the World Series,” Cora said. “There’s no coincidence that he’s been successful the last few years because he found it and he keeps working on it.”
Martinez said he typically likes to get 60 to 80 at-bats in the spring, including Grapefruit League and minor league games, to prepare for the season.
Despite the delayed start to Martinez’s spring, Cora said he believes the big hitter is on pace for the season opener March 29 at Tampa Bay.
“It’s a spring training game, so he needs his reps,” Cora said. “But to see him out there, actually to see him around, spend time with him, it’s a lot different than the last week.
“We’ve been on the road so much since he signed, we haven’t been able to connect. So to have him in the lineup, have him in the dugout, that’s good, not only for me but for everybody.”
Martinez knows there are big hopes for him, but he isn’t letting that affect him.
“I feel like you guys have the expectations, the fans and the media,” he said. “Really, I’m just going to go out there and play my game and do what I’ve been doing for the last four or five years.
“As far as the pressure and stuff goes, I’m just going to try to go out there and play my game. Obviously, ignore it, stuff like that. Obviously, playing in Boston, it’s a big market, so there’s going to be a lot more, but I think it’ll be a good test of handling it.”
Bears general manager Ryan Pace expressed interest in retaining Fuller at last week’s NFL scouting combine.
Obviously we like Kyle, and he had a good season, and we’re happy with the way he’s progressed, Pace told reporters.
The 26-year-old defensive back looked all but done with the Bears before the start of the 2017 season, then turned in arguably his best season, with 67 tackles, two interceptions and 22 pass breakups.
Chicago brought in multiple cornerbacks last spring, in essence to replace Fuller. The 2014 first-round draft pick missed the entire 2016 season following a routine knee scope, which caused the team to decline his fifth-year option.
Fuller started 46 games for the Bears over four seasons.
Sporting News consulted four men who work in the business of scouting prospects, and all said the opportunity to evaluate prospects performing at the college level assists them in building a profile of a player’s potential.