DETROIT -- J.D. Martinez has found a home in Detroit, but the former Astros outfielder was looking forward to seeing some of his friends and former teammates this week during the Tigers' series against Houston.
"It's going to be exciting seeing the guys again," said Martinez, who was drafted and developed by the Astros before being released in March. "It's weird. You look across and everybody is looking at you and waving at you. And you want to go over there and hang with them and say, 'Hi,' but you can't. I can't explain it. It's just exciting."
Martinez was called up by Detroit after hitting .308 with 10 homers and 22 RBIs in 17 games at Triple-A Toledo. He wasn't in the lineup for Monday's series opener, but he was hitting .278 with four RBIs in 18 games off the bench.
Martinez said being on a winning team with a deep lineup has removed some of the pressure he felt with the Astros, where he often felt a burden to drive in runs.
"There's so many guys in the lineup here that you don't feel like you have that pressure on you," he said. "We have a really good lineup over there, but it's different. These are experienced guys, they're the guys that have done it. You kind of just go out there and if there's guys on, you try hard to get them -- but if not, it's not the end of the world. I know the guy behind me is just as good, and he's probably going to get him. When you're winning, there's a lot less pressure."
And Martinez admitted he was caught off guard when he discovered the down-to-earth natures of stars like Miguel Cabrera, Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer.
"All these guys have been around the game for so long and done so much," he said. "You think they would have egos and stuff, and it's the complete opposite. None of the guys have egos. They're all like little kids. It was the coolest thing, talking to Miggy and the way he was and the way he talks. He was so humble. I had an out-of-body experience talking to him. You're like, 'Wow, is this really the Triple Crown winner?'"
Martinez credits much of his success this year to the adjustments he made in winter ball and again in Spring Training, where he worked on keeping his bat in the zone longer.
"Once I got my timing, I felt like, 'OK, I got it now,' and it kind of rode into the season," he said.
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.