June 17, 2014 at 11:16 pm

Terry Foster

Tigers' slugger Victor Martinez puts premium on power, patience

Detroit — Victor Martinez stood at the plate admiring his handiwork. He thought a long fly ball would end up as a walk-off home run against the Twins.

Instead, it bounced off the glove of outfielder Oswaldo Arcia, and Martinez settled for a single. Torii Hunter would end up scoring the winning run on a J.D. Martinez sacrifice fly.

That just seems to be the way thing are going for Victor Martinez. When he’s at the plate, something good usually happens.

“His focus on every pitch is better than any hitter I have seen in my entire career,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. “And that is every single pitch.”

Trying for a good swing

Martinez always has been focused.

His best season came in 2007 in Cleveland — when he was 28 years old. He hit .301 and had 25 home runs and 114 RBIs. This season — at 35 — he’s hitting .335 with 17 home runs and 45 RBIs.

What’s his secret?

“I don’t know,” he said. “I just go out with the same mindset as always. You try to always be a tough out and bother everybody.

“And the most important thing is I really am trying to put a good swing every time I go out there. Every time you put a good swing on something, anything can happen.”

Martinez went 3-for-5 in Game 2 against the Twins last weekend, knocking in two runs. But his two outs brought nearly as much excitement as his hits. Both were nearly home runs.

“He is really good at hitting,” Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler said.

“I don’t know why. He works hard at it. He works extremely hard at it. He takes his job very seriously and he allows that to carry over to the game.”

'They are really going'

Martinez missed the entire 2012 season with a torn ACL, and it took him a few weeks to get his legs back last season.

“Right now, I think he is stronger,” Tigers right fielder Torii Hunter said. “He worked his butt off during the offseason. Victor has always been patient at the plate and he has always had power. He is driving the ball from both sides. You got to love it.”

Still, the one of the problems with the Tigers is Miguel Cabrera and Martinez are the only hitters pitchers worry about.

They, however, remain one of the most dangerous 3-4 combinations in baseball.


“Miguel is the power guy who goes for the fence,” Hunter said. “Victor is more patient at the plate. He waits for his pitch and he doesn’t really miss them.

“But what he is doing with this power surge, I have no idea how he is doing it, and he probably can’t tell you either. It’s a mystery. He’s always a guy who can hit the ball high and they get going. But this year they are really going.”

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'His focus on every pitch is better than any hitter I have seen in my entire career,' Tigers manager Brad Ausmus says about Victor Martinez. / Robin Buckson / Detroit News
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