KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Astros outfielder J.D. Martinez is gripping the bat a little different these days.
Martinez started choking up about an inch from the bottom of the barrel of the bat following last year's surgery to remove the hamate bone in his left hand. The knob of the bat had been digging into his palm, which led to the injury. By choking up, Martinez has reduced the friction.
To help him remember to choke up, Martinez has made a small pad around the top of the knob.
"At the beginning, it was weird," he said. "I was kind of resistant to it. I felt a relief when I did it, though. The next day wasn't as sore. That's probably it. I started doing it and once you start swinging, you get used to it."
A hitting coach Martinez uses back home in Miami suggested Martinez try choking up, and so far the results have been good for his health.
"Once [the hand] gets better and I don't have to worry about it, I can try doing something else or go back [to his original grip]," Martinez said. "But for right now, to get rid of some of the inflammation I still have in there, I'm just trying to minimize the irritation that's going on."