June 27, 2014 at 1:00 am


Tigers' J.D. Martinez stays low-key on eve of reunion with former team

Arlington, Texas — The homecoming trip continues.

For Ian Kinsler, it was the return to the park he called home for eight years. And when he hit a home run in his first at-bat Tuesday at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas, he simply could not resist giving the guys in the Rangers dugout a little wave as he began his trot.

For J.D. Martinez, his homecoming begins Friday night in Houston, the team that released him in March.

At the time, manager Jeff Luhnow said Martinez was no longer needed because the Astros were “victims of our own success.”

As it’s turned out so far, the move has backfired on the Astros and been a plus for the Tigers.

Martinez had a 14-game hitting streak, the longest of his career and the longest active streak in the majors, before it was snapped in Thursday’s 6-0 win over the Rangers. Still, he had an RBI.

In the 14 games, Martinez hit .411 (23-for-56) with eight doubles, six home runs and 17 RBIs.

Whatever success the Astros believe they’re having, Martinez certainly would have added to it with such production.

Martinez was sorry to leave the organization, same as Kinsler.

But unlike Kinsler, there will be no wave into the Astros dugout if Martinez happens to hit a home run against his former team. If anything, Martinez will try not to focus on the fact it’s his former team he’ll be playing against.

That won’t be easy. It might not even be possible. But it’s what Martinez will attempt to do.

“I’d be lying to you if I said I don’t miss some of the guys I played with and grew up with there,” he said. “But I kind of don’t even think about (making the Astros look foolish for the decision to release him). I don’t think in that way. I don’t let it faze me.

“I try to look at the positive side of it. Yeah, it’s happened, but look where I’m at now, and the team that I’m with — one that could go to the World Series. I’m not holding a grudge.”

Martinez, 26, spent three seasons with the Astros. He had 24 home runs and 126 RBIs in 899 at-bats

But if he had been as productive for the Astros as he’s been in 122 at-bats for the Tigers, he would have hit 66 home runs for Houston instead of 24 and driven in 228 runs instead of 126.

The reason for the difference, Martinez insists, continues to be his revamped swing.

“I feel like I’m able to cover a lot more pitches than I used to cover,” he said. “I’m not missing as many pitches as I was in previous years — and I’m confident because of that.

“I changed my swing from the bottom up. If you look at video from last year compared to this year, it doesn’t look even remotely the same.”

Martinez showed the Astros he changed his swing, and told them he had, but they cut him all the same.

The Tigers have played the Astros this season at Comerica Park, so this won’t be Martinez’s first time on the “other” side. And while he’s been going through this torrid stretch, his former teammates have been busy with congratulatory texts.

“But I want to look at them as if they’re just another team,” he said about the upcoming visit. “I don’t want any (other emotion) into my head. I just want to focus on going up to the plate and hitting the ball hard.”

As he’s been doing.

Again and again.

Around the horn

The contract of right-handed pitcher Evan Reed has been outrighted to Triple A Toledo. He was designated for assignment June 18.



Tigers outfielder J.D. Martinez watches his flyball in the first inning Thursday night in Arlington. He had his 14-game hitting streak snapped. / Tom Pennington / Getty Images