Victor Martinez, the newest member of the Tigers, spoke with the media today via a conference call and thanked the Red Sox for the opportunity to play in Boston but said Detroit is giving him a “great chance” to put a World Series ring on his finger.
“I would like to thank the Red Sox to give me the opportunity, they brought me in last year at the end of the year, and this year,” Martinez said. “I really want to thank them very much. It was a great opportunity. It was a great experience. I can’t thank them enough for giving me that opportunity.
“On the other hand, I was really, really looking forward to come here to Detroit. Me and my family were really excited when Detroit was interested in myself and we were just finding a way to get it done. I know this organization. I played in the [American League] Central for pretty much my whole career. I played against you guys [Tigers] a lot. I can see the improvement you guys made. You guys are always trying to improve the team. Make the team better, competitive, and that’s something that I really liked. I was looking for a place to give me a great chance to put a ring on my finger. It couldn’t be better than the Detroit Tigers. I’m really happy to be here and I’m just anxious and ready to get spring training started.”
Martinez was asked if he was disappointed that the Red Sox did not raise their offer to keep him in Boston.
“I really don’t want to talk about that,” Martinez said. “I really thank the Red Sox a lot. It was a great experience for me and my family to go out there and to that big city, and play the game. It was a great experience and we were ready to move on and I can’t thank them enough for giving me the opportunity to go out there and play.
“He [Red Sox manager Terry Francona] did send me text. It was special. They were great teammates. Everybody from the coaching staff, trainer’s staff, the guys in clubhouse, everybody was great for me and my family. I can’t thank them enough because it was a great time that I spent in Boston.”
Martinez was asked if the fourth year made a difference in his signing with the Tigers so quickly.
“If I could say something about that fourth year, maybe I can ask any of you guys to tell me a reason why I can’t play four years?” Martinez said. “I’m just 31 years old. I’m going to be 32 when season starts. The fourth year, it was just out there because I take care of myself. When the season ends, three weeks later I’m working out. I’m doing all my stuff. I can just see myself playing four years. If I want to, I’ll play until I’m 40 years old. I know that I can play at least five or six more years at the same level that I’m playing right now because I know myself. I go into the offseason, I have a trainer. Actually my brother, the guy who cooks for me, and I just take care of myself pretty good, that is why.”
Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera reached out to Martinez a couple to times during the negotiations to persuade the former Red Sox catcher to come to Detroit.
“I’ve been playing against Miguel a long time, since winter ball here in Venezuela,” Martinez said. “I was playing against him when I was in Cleveland. He was already in Detroit. He did make a few phone calls and I expressed to him the desire that I want to make it happen and I want to go to Detroit because I see a great team, really young talent on the Detroit Tigers. It is a great organization and a good team to build around that yong talent, They give me a lot of chance to win.
“It was exactly what I was looking for. I’m definitely a family guy, I really stay with my family a lot and he told me that’s what you guys are. You guys are really tight with the kids, the family. He told me it’s a great organization from top to bottom and that’s one of the things that I was looking for. Looking for a place that hopefully I can stay the rest of my career and I talked to my wife and we thought that we found the place.”
Martinez, who is expected to catch about 60 games for Detroit next season, expressed his thoughts on moving from primarily being a catcher to now being the Tigers primary designated hitter.
“If I can do anything to get this team better… I’m more than happy to do it,” Martinez said. “If this team is going to be better with me as the DH, as a catcher, as a first baseman, it don’t matter to me. Bottom line, I just want to win. I come here because I want to win. Anything that I can help to get this team to win. I’m gonna do it. I just real excited and I want to win, bad.”
Martinez was asked about his struggles at Comerica Park, where he’s hit just .216 with four home runs, 21 RBI and 15 runs scored in 162 at-bats.
“You have to look, if I really have a hard time hitting at Comerica Park, I think you have to give credit to who deserves credit,” Martinez said. “Remember you have Justin Verlander, Jeremy Bonderman, Rick Porcello, they’re not easy to hit, especially in that ballpark. Now, I’m going to have them on my side. I think that’s going to change a lot. I really look forward to it. If I have to tell you something, I don’t have to change anything. I’m just going to go out there and just try to be a tough out, put a good swing, and see what happens.”
Tigers CEO Dave Dombrowski said he was thrilled to have Martinez on board. “We feel we’ve been able to add a premium bat in the middle of lineup,” Dombrowski said. “[He’s] someone we can count on playing every day through a combination of catching, DH, first base, most importantly having him in the lineup on an everyday basis.”
Alex Avila is still expected to be the Tigers’ No. 1 catcher.
“We expect Victor to be in our lineup on a daily basis, serving primarily as our club’s designated hitter and catching two to three times a week,” Dombrowski said. “He also has the ability to fill in at first base and his versatility allows us to keep a premier bat in our lineup every day.”