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ting ReportThe Indians were expecting big things from Victor Martinez last year and he delivered. Not only did Martinez justify their belief that he will be their starting catcher for years to come, but he showed them he could hit in the big leagues. Martinez arrived on June 27 from Triple-A Buffalo and immediately impressed the Indians with the improvements he'd made as a catcher. Offensively, he hit safely in 24 of his last 25 games.
Martinez is a line-drive switch-hitter who recognizes pitches early and can make adjustments during at-bats. After hitting one homer in Cleveland and seven in Buffalo last summer in 433 at-bats, Martinez isn't in danger of breaking your mother's picture window. The Indians call him a doubles hitter and believe the 190-pounder eventually will develop more power. Martinez has a quick, level swing from each side of the plate and has shown the ability to hit breaking balls and fastballs. He didn't hit well with runners in scoring position, but batted .393 (22-for-56) from the seventh inning on.
Baserunning & Defense
Manager Eric Wedge told Martinez before he started last season at Buffalo that if he wanted to make the big leagues as a catcher, he had to improve defensively. Martinez, a converted shortstop who always paid more attention to his offense, worked hard on his throwing, game-calling and ball-blocking with roving catching instructor Chris Bando. Martinez is never going to have a Pudge Rodriguez-type arm, as he threw out 28.6 percent (8-for-28) of the baserunners he faced. The Indians think Martinez and their young starting pitchers can grow together.
Martinez will go to spring training as the starting catcher, but he will be pushed by Josh Bard and Tim Laker. The Indians see Martinez becoming a complete hitter. They think someday he may develop into a catcher like Jorge Posada and hit for average and power with a high on-base percentage.
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