By Ashley Dunkak
DETROIT - Detroit Tigers outfielder J.D. Martinez entered Saturday's game against the Kansas City Royals on a seven-game hitless streak. His batting average for the season was .216.Tigers manager Brad Ausmus had recently dropped Martinez from the fifth spot in the lineup to the sixth.
After Friday's game against the Royals, however, Ausmus believes Martinez is headed in the right direction, and so does Martinez.
"I thought about giving him today off," Ausmus said Saturday morning, "but he had such a good at bat against Wade Davis that I changed my mind."
In the eighth inning Friday, with the game tied 5-5, Martinez worked a nine-pitch walk against Royals reliever Wade Davis, whose ERA through 13 appearances this season is 0.00.
The Tigers did not end up scoring that inning - though the Tigers did eventually win in walkoff fashion - but the tough at bat impressed Ausmus and heightened Martinez's confidence.
"I felt a lot better," Martinez said. "I've been inching closer to where I need to be the last couple games, so last night I felt good at the plate. Just the results aren't there, but the feeling's starting to come back."
Martinez, who was preparing to head to the batting cage as he did an interview Saturday morning, said he has been working with Tigers hitting coach Wally Joyner to get himself back to form, and those efforts have made a difference.
"I think it's just a lot of little adjustments that I've made, with Wally and stuff like that, working in the cage and a lot of things like looking at videos and trying to find, comparing stuff from last year to this year," Martinez said.
Last year, Martinez finished the season with a batting average of .315 and 23 home runs. Some have suggested that Martinez's recent struggles show that 2014 was a fluke, but Martinez clearly does not believe that.
"Of course there's frustrations, but I feel like I've stayed pretty well, I feel like I've handled it well," Martinez said. "I know it's just one of those things. It's baseball."
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