J.D. Martinez's approach to his job is a hit with Steve Pearce . . . and other Sox, too

Evan Drellich
NBC Sports Boston

BOSTON - The five runs the Red Sox scored on Monday were divvied up between a pair of players who homered. Steve Pearce, the newcomer, ripped a two-run shot, and J.D. Martinez sealed the 5-0 victory with a three-run home run.

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Before both left Fenway on Monday night, they stood in the Red Sox clubhouse and looked at a phone. They were watching video.

Not of Pearce's homer. Not of Martinez's either.

"Oh, we weren't looking at me," Pearce said. "We were looking at like other hitters. We're talking about swing paths and swing planes. That's the stuff we were talking about more than changing mechanics or batting stance or stuff like that. It was more like, ‘Everybody has a swing path.'

"He started showing me Mike Trout: how they do this, this is what makes them who they are. And so it's funny when he's showing me, I'm like, ‘Replay that, I'm not seeing what you're seeing.' He has that down to a science."

Pearce and Martinez have been Sox teammates for less than two weeks. They were briefly teammates six years ago as well, in Houston, but Pearce's month-long stay with the Astros didn't even include a full month with Martinez. The Astros added Pearce July 28, 2012, and on Aug. 9, 2012, Martinez was optioned to the minors.

Their rapport, then, is relatively new, but Pearce is a believer.

"He might tell me to go up there and hit with one foot in the air and I'd probably do it, ‘cause that's how much I trust the guy and respect his knowledge," Pearce said. "That's like the rumor around baseball: this guy knows hitting. … And just being around him, it just, it blows my mind. He's answering questions that I've had for my whole life. Just by looking at my swing.

"Wow, this guy, I mean … he's just professional at what he does, man."

Pearce is 11-for-24 (.458) since joining the Sox, and Martinez didn't want to interrupt that good mojo. So Pearce, who is aligned with Martinez in a desire to always understand his swing regardless of the result, engaged him.

"He didn't want to approach me just because I'm having success right now, don't want to change anything," Pearce said. "I ended up going to him, I'm asking him for advice because of what he was able to do. 

"I love talking hitting. Most players love talking hitting, but … he's next level. Why my swing works, why it doesn't work. My strengths, my weaknesses. [He'll say] ‘And so like, your swing doesn't allow you to do this, but you can do this really well, that's what makes you, you.'"

Martinez, who has taken Mookie Betts and others under his wing, has recommended some drills to Pearce. The infielder said he hasn't taken anything into game action yet.

In a way, what Martinez is teaching is vocabulary.

"I don't care how well I'm doing," Pearce said. "I want to feel how well I'm doing as opposed to just do it."

Hence, a clubhouse conversation after a game in which both players homered.

"So if I'm going wrong, I can know what to fix, as opposed to like right now," Pearce said. "I'm a feel [guy]. When that feel goes - ultimately that always happens to everybody - I want to be able to get back the right way."


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