By Will Burchfield
Victor Martinez isn’t shy about his distaste for hitting in Comerica Park.
“You know what? Hitting in this ballpark, it doesn’t help me at all, getting the ball in the air. This (expletive) ballpark is too (expletive) big, at least for me,” he said last month.
The deep outfield fences at Comerica routinely turn would-be home runs into outs. For pull-inclined lefties, the Bermuda Triangle in right-center field is a particular source of frustration. No one sends more ill-fated fly balls to that area of the outfield, it seems, than the Tigers’ 38-year-old D.H.
He sent another one there in the eighth inning of the Tigers’ 5-3 loss to the Angels on Tuesday night, two men on base at the time, and watched it fall harmlessly into the glove of right fielder Cole Calhoun. It would have been a homer in almost any other ballpark in the league.
“That’s all I got, man, that’s all I got. It’s just too big for me, I’ve told you a couple times,” Martinez said, May’s anger becoming June’s despair. “It is what it is, man. I hit the ball pretty decent and it got caught. That’s it.”
V-Mart is hitting .240 with three home runs, 14 RBI and a .709 OPS in 22 games at home this season. Over 29 games on the road, he’s hitting .280 with two homers, 14 RBI and a .756 OPS. The splits aren’t drastic, but Martinez feels he’s been stymied by the deep fences at Comerica Park time and time again.
“I’m not Miggy, I’m not J-Up, I’m not J.D. It is what it is, man. I hit the ball pretty decent and it got caught like a lot of balls I’ve been hitting that way. That’s one of the reasons that I’m a different hitter here. I’m just tired of getting outs and hearing, ‘Good swing, good swing.’ Like I told you guys a couple weeks ago, good swings don’t get you paid and good swings don’t get the fans happy anyways,” Martinez said.
The Tigers’ 38-year-old designated hitter said trying to go to the opposite field isn’t necessarily a solution.
“I don’t try to do that here. It doesn’t work for me here. I’m trying to hit bloopers, whatever, something that at least I can get on base. But not here,” he said.
Each time V-Mart sends a fly-out to deep right field, he hangs his head and trudges back to the dugout. It seems he’s walked slower and slower of late.
As he ages, the ballpark he calls home is becoming anything but hospitable.
“It is a lot of frustration that comes with it. I came this year with a little different mindset: I’m just going to stay with my strength. But again, man, you don’t get rewarded, like me. You get tired,” he said.