J.D. doesn't put stock in spring homers

Outfielder using Grapefruit League games to fine-tune swing

J.D. doesn't put stock in spring homers

LAKELAND, Fla. -- For Steven Moya, four Spring Training home runs aren't enough. For J.D. Martinez, four Grapefruit League home runs aren't important.

"Doesn't mean anything," Martinez said after his third home run in four days helped power the Tigers' 10-6 win over the Braves on Tuesday. "At the end of the day, to me, what does it mean? I'm not worried about that."

Martinez doesn't have to worry about making the team anymore. After two impressive seasons, right field in Detroit is his. But there's an irony to his Grapefruit League history.

Spring Training: Schedule | Tickets | Gear

Until last year, Martinez never hit well in Spring Training. If he had, there's a good chance he wouldn't be a Tiger. He was 3-for-18 with seven strikeouts in Grapefruit League play when the Astros released him from camp two years ago. The rest is history.

Now that Martinez doesn't have to hit to make the team, he's hitting. But he's not trying to hit. He's trying to prepare.

"Honestly, I'm trying to get my swing underneath me," Martinez said. "I'm trying to get my timing, trying to work on different approaches. Maybe one at-bat, I'm going to try to get to two strikes and then be ready to hit. Another at-bat, I'll want to sit [on the] slider, or I'll want to do something with the fastball. I want to try to look for anything away. These are kind of the times you want to pick and choose your times to do things, because it's really not important. If you strike out, you strike out. What's the worst that can happen?

J.D. Martinez on preparation

"It's spring. It doesn't mean anything. For other guys, obviously it's different. Some guys have to come in and they have to hit and try to make a team. Fortunately for me, this year I feel I don't have that pressure on me like I've had in the past, and I can work on different things when I'm up there."

Tuesday's homer came off a familiar foe. Martinez and Bud Norris were teammates for a few years in Houston, then foes for a couple years between Detroit and Baltimore. Martinez sent a ball just to the left-field side of the batting eye for a three-run homer.

To Martinez, though, familiarity isn't important. If anything, he wants variety.

"I would like to see different categories of pitchers, submarine guys, guys throwing over the top, three-quarters, funky guys, so you can kind of see as many looks as you can before the season starts," he said. "That's why, to me, Spring Training is so hard, because every time you go up there, there's a new pitcher, and you have to come up with a new plan.

"During the season, you don't have that. During the season, you have video, you know the guys, what they like to do, things like that. You don't know any of these guys when they go out there, so now's the time to improvise, just go up there.

"It's hard to get a plan off those guys. It's going to be beneficial in the long term."

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.