Did you hear? The Red Sox got 2004 Manny Ramirez back in the lineup. It’s just that it’s 2018 and the hitter is named J.D. Martinez.
Manager Alex Cora is setting the bar pretty high for Martinez and the effect he’ll have on the Red Sox lineup this season. Basically, he’s saying he’ll be as impactful now as Manny was in his prime years in a Red Sox uniform. Not only will he jack the ball out of the park at a similar rate to his 2017 season, he’ll protect the other guys like the kind of lineup centerpiece that strikes fear into opposing hitters.
“Our lineup got longer from top to bottom,” said Cora, via Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. “You have to execute, especially nowadays. You almost have to be perfect from Pitch 1, from Mookie [Betts] all the way down to nine. We saw Manny and what he did.
“People talk about Fenway and how big it is to right field and right-center. With [Martinez], it doesn’t matter. If he stays with his approach, I’ll bet you the Wall is going to help him because he’s going to stay on those fastballs and drive them to right-center, and whenever they hang one, he’ll pull it with power.”
“We Saw Manny”
As for the home run numbers Cora is expecting for Martinez? Just like, 45. And a .300 average.
Next-level thinking from Cora here. Can’t set the bar too low. No reason to expect 30 homers when he could crank 45. Can’t let him get complacent. Better put him right up there with Manny instead. Right up there with the 2004 World Series MVP, the (should-be) future Hall of Famer. No one’s ever been successful without setting goals.
By the way, Martinez had his first documented batting practice of spring training on Tuesday. Let’s just say that no baseballs were safe.
No pressure, J.D., but Manny used to regularly launch BP balls all the way out. Just saying. You want to be Manny, you better battle for a few Triple Crowns. Unless you want Dave Dombrowski to ship you off to L.A.
So, good news for Red Sox fans. Manny just fell back in your lap. Set your expectations accordingly.
— By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at email@example.com.