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Meet one of the Red Sox' newest leaders, J.D. Martinez

Rob Bradford
June 14, 2018 - 7:59 am

BALTIMORE -- Remember all that leadership talk of a season ago?

David Ortiz had left. David Price's controversies dominated storylines. And Dustin Pedroia was left standing in front of his locker proclaiming "I'm standing right here," when questioned about the presence of leaders in the Red Sox' clubhouse.

Now, there has been a revelation in this respect.

J.D. Martinez has emerged as a legitimate leader just a few months into his tenure with the Red Sox.

"I’m not in here going ‘Rah, rah, rah! Let’s go guys. We lost today.’ That’s not me," Martinez told WEEI.com. "But as far as leadership, I like to share my information."

The reality of leadership in a baseball clubhouse is that it comes from all corners of the room. To think that you're going to slap a "C" on somebody's chest and expect the proper amount of motivational speeches isn't realistic. The direction should be heard from starting pitchers, bullpen guys, role players, and prominent position players. That's how it works.

But when it comes to the opportunity Martinez has come across to offer leadership from his corner of the world, it's been proven to be a pretty powerful dynamic. Almost every time hitting is discussed for any player on the Red Sox, the outfielder/designated hitter's name comes up. This isn't the norm. That's what makes the 30-year-old's presence so unique.

"It’s just something I do because I hate to see people struggling. It’s kind of one of those things where I say things when I see people struggling, people hurting," he said. "I like to share information. Certain guys beat their head against the wall, not knowing what to do. I just like to show them what I think and what I see great hitters do. I show it to them. It’s not my way, it’s everyone’s way that made me look at it that way."

For Martinez, it's part of his professional evolution, as well.

Even though he had established himself as a legitimate offensive threat in his years in Detroit, this piece of the equation wasn't an option. There were other guys to do that.

"It’s different, that’s for sure," he noted. "In Detroit, I had to shut up. I couldn’t really talk. I could say stuff, but there were a lot of veteran guys."

Then came his introduction to a much younger roster in Arizona last season. But even then, feeling empowered to pass along information and be a chief sounding board wasn't really a thing ... at least for a while.

"Goldy (Paul Goldschmidt) was like, ‘Talk, bro. Say anything.’ So I started little by little," Martinez said.

Then he was dropped onto this Red Sox roster that had become surprisingly young. The elder statesman, Pedroia, was tending to his own comeback, and the only other position players who were born before Martinez were Mitch Moreland and Hanley Ramirez. Ramirez is gone, and Moreland is a soft-spoken sort. That left the guy who had been sitting in the shadows behind Miguel Cabrera, Ian Kinsler and Victor Martinez all those years.

"Toward the end in Arizona is when I really started helping out more. When I came here it was one of those things that it came with the territory," Martinez said. "There was a lot of young guys who asked questions. And I like to talk hitting so I’m not going to shut up about it.

"I didn’t come in talking off the bat. I kind of felt the clubhouse out and if it’s needed … I don’t just talk to talk. If it’s needed, I’ll talk."

The talk has paid off, for both the Red Sox and one of their new leaders.

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