Martinez wins AL Player of the Week
Subpar start to season no hindrance for catcher
CLEVELAND -- Victor Martinez figured that, at some point in the 2005 season, he'd hit as he's always hit, which means he'd be hitting well. But when his batting average was hovering a tick or two above the Mendoza line, when he would hit turned out to be the ongoing question."It's like a horse race, you know," Martinez said on Monday. "You see those horses go in front, and they finish in last place. That was the kind of thinking that I had." He took the wise man's approach, because as this horse race that is the Major League season winds toward its homestretch, Martinez's average is closer to .300 now than it is to .200. In seven games last week, the Indians catcher batted .536 (15-for-28), hit three homers, knocked in six runs and scored eight. For his week's production, the 26-year-old Martinez was named the American League Player of the Week, an award sponsored by Bank of America. On behalf of Martinez, Bank of America will donate $1,000 to Little League Urban Initiative. His bat in August leaves Martinez in good position to win AL Player of the Month, and it would be hard not to present a strong case for him to win it. "I've been kinda lucky that I hit the ball and find the hole," he said. Finding the hole? Well, he's been finding a whole lot of holes since August rolled toward September. He's raised his batting average from a pedestrian .268 to .294, and Martinez has been one of the driving forces behind the Tribe's sudden emergence as a serious contender for the AL Wild Card spot. He's put his early struggles behind him. "He never got too emotional about it," said manager Eric Wedge, offering his explanation of Martinez's slow start this season. "He's got a very consistent approach and consistent mind-set. "I think for a young player, he's got a great understanding of this game -- the fact [that] it is a marathon. It takes time sometimes to come out of a touch stretch." He's had no tough stretches of late, Wedge said. Martinez stepped in the when hot-hitting Travis Hafner went on the disabled list with a concussion in early July, and has been hitting the baseball hard ever since. And there's no better example of how well Martinez has hit than the Tribe's series against the Devil Rays from Aug. 22-25. Martinez had back-to-back four-hit games, becoming the first Indians catcher to do so since Sandy Alomar Jr. in 1997. For the month of August, Martinez, a 2004 Silver Slugger Award winner, is batting .407 (37-for-91) with five home runs and 13 RBIs. In winning the award, he beat out Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, A's second baseman Mark Ellis and Devil Rays second baseman Jorge Cantu. Martinez's teammate Jake Westbrook and Red Sox left-hander David Wells also received consideration.
For winning the award, Martinez will receive a Tourneau timepiece.
Justice B. Hill is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.