Martinez picks it up after a dropping-down
NEW YORK — Even for Terry Francona, a manager who likes to make sure his hitters have been given every chance to turn it around in their customary spot in the order, it was time for Victor Martinez to be moved down. So, instead of hitting in his usual No. 3 spot last night against the Yankees, the catcher was dropped to fifth.
By the end of last night’s 11-9 loss to the Yankees, in which Martinez broke out of his slump with two solo home runs, it appeared the catcher might be ticketed for a return to his usual spot. Martinez ended an 0-for-19 skid with homers in the sixth and eighth innings.
“They were two hits,’’ Martinez said. “At the same time we’re still losing the game.’’
It was the fourth multihomer game of Martinez’s career and the third time he’s gone deep from both sides of the plate in the same game. He’s the sixth member of the Sox to do so, and first since Jason Varitek Aug. 16, 2005.
“I think it started as a small mechanical thing, his stride was really long, and he’s such a good, handsy hitter lefthanded that he wasn’t using his hands,’’ hitting coach Dave Magadan said. “So I think he’s been a little better lately, but I think you get to a point where you start trying to get three hits in one at-bat. He gets a little bit anxious. He hit some balls hard that didn’t fall in for him. Maybe alleviate some of the load on his shoulders by dropping him down in the lineup.’’
Martinez did not seem bothered by the lineup move before the game, and proved it with his bat.
“You still have to go out there and put in good at-bats,’’ he said. “I don’t think it’s taking pressure off. If I know [what the problem is], I might be out of it. I just keep working on it. The only thing I can control is just come here, keep working, keep working, and see what happens.’’
Asked if his contract situation was playing into the slump, Martinez said, “No. When that comes to my mind is when people like you come and say it. But I don’t really pay attention to it. I just come to the ballpark every day and work. That’s it.’’
Magadan said Martinez might be feeling the pressure to produce, especially as the Sox have been struggling to win. He has hit adequately at home (.284, 3 homers, 14 RBIs), but had been awful on the road before last night (.135, 0, 3), and has watched his offense sink even further in May than it had in April.
“I think any time you’re playing for the Boston Red Sox and you’re hitting third and you’re not doing what you feel like you’re capable of doing, you want to do some things to help the team win,’’ Magadan said. “He’s got a lot of pride in what he does. He’s such a team guy. When we don’t win and he goes 0-fer, he takes it hard. It’s not as big of a deal, I don’t think, for him when we’re winning games and we’re not getting hits ’cause he takes pride in the fact that we’re winning.
“He puts a lot of it on his shoulders, and hopefully we can get him going. We need him.’’
“It went well,’’ he said. “I was able to throw a lot of strikes. It’s just pitching. I have to do the same things whether I start or relieve.’’
Wakefield was in the clubhouse during the final inning. Asked how hard it was to watch the Yankee comeback, he said, “I have no control over that.’’
“I don’t think we think he’s quite ready. I think he agrees with that,’’ Francona said. “He’s tender a little bit in his abdominal region. Not where he got hurt, just tender. He’s done a lot of work, and I think we just want to make sure when we bring him off that he’s ready to play.’’
Cameron did some work at Fenway yesterday with trainer Jim Rowe, and is expected to do more today. He might play tomorrow in the minors, likely in Portland.
Asked if Cameron will need surgery, Francona said, “No, that’s why we’re not activating him tonight. We don’t want it to get to a point where he ever would need surgery.
“I think the word the doctors used was it wasn’t acute. Which means, I think, that’s why we’re trying to do this right where he does come back, he can play every day or pretty much every day, not have to think about [it] and certainly not need surgery.
“We want to make sure he’s ready.’’
Ellsbury went 1 for 3 with a walk, two runs, and an RBI as Pawtucket’s designated hitter. Ellsbury, who has been out since April 11 with four fractured ribs, will play the outfield today in Double A Portland.