With starting job in tow, Martinez heating up

With starting job in tow, Martinez heating up

HOUSTON -- J.D. Martinez's season was in jeopardy before it began. Cast off the original Opening Day roster after Spring Training before a last-minute injury pushed him up, "run producer" wasn't a word many would have used to describe the 25-year-old outfielder.

Seven weeks later, it's the only appropriate term after an impressive surge. Martinez has popped three home runs, driven in 10 runs and hit .353 (12-for-34) over his last 10 games.

"He's really seeing the ball well, and he's a guy that definitely is developing into a productive run producer in this league," said Astros manager Bo Porter.

Martinez doesn't take the moniker lightly, but said his slow start -- which included missing 16 games in late April and early May due to a sprained right knee -- didn't slow his confidence as a power hitter. He belted a three-run homer Friday against Oakland that put the Astros ahead, 5-2, two nights after a two-run shot versus Kansas City proved to be the difference in the 3-1 win.

His 2-for-4 night Friday broke a 4-for-22 rut (.182) in six previous games this season against A's pitching. Martinez has been especially productive against right-handers, with four of his five home runs and 14 of his 17 RBIs this season coming against righties.

But Martinez said there's no magic formula or specific pitching style that's boosted his game recently.

"It's just rhythm and confidence," he said. "Every time you go up there, you know you're going to hit the ball hard. That's how guys get hot. When a guy's hitting the ball hard two to three times a game, that starts a tear. You can't manufacture it with one big swing, you have to be consistent and I'm getting there."

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. Chris Abshire is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.