Anthony Rizzo has struggled in his first taste of the big leagues, going just 5-for-31 (.161) with one homer and 12 strikeouts since being called up two weeks ago, but the Padres have made it very clear that they won’t be benching or demoting the top prospect.
Here’s what manager Bud Black told Rob Terranova of the North County Times:
He’s going to play. He’s got a very good head on his shoulders, has poise, and a great perspective on where he is right now for a 21-year-old. Now he needs time to continue to grow as a player and develop as a major-leaguer.
And here’s general manager Jed Hoyer:
He might be overswinging a little bit right now, but we have no doubt that he’s going to be a really good player. He’s just gonna go though some growing pains.
When a team commits to calling up a stud prospect at age 21 how he fares through two weeks should have absolutely zero impact on their plans. Rizzo, who was acquired from the Red Sox as part of the four-prospect package for Adrian Gonzalez this offseason, hit .365 with 16 homers, 20 doubles, and a 1.159 OPS in 52 games at Triple-A prior to the call-up. He’ll be just fine.
After 16 years in the majors, longtime Tigers DH Victor Martinez capped his career with one final start at Comerica Park. Although there are seven games remaining in the club’s regular season schedule, Martinez said he felt he owed it to the fans to record his final at-bat at home. He’ll still cheer the rest of the team on from the dugout when they hit the road for their last six-game stretch on Monday, though he’s not expected to slot into the lineup at any point during their back-to-back away series against the Twins and Brewers.
In order to commemorate the occasion, the Tigers arranged a pregame ceremony to celebrate the veteran infielder’s seven years with the team, during which they presented him with Topps baseball cards, a recliner, a pair of boots, and a saddle, among other honors. Martinez also put in a special request to play first base, a position he hadn’t manned in over two years.
The 39-year-old didn’t waste a single minute of his final start in the majors. He deftly handled an inning-ending out in the top of the first, then laced a rare infield single to short in his first and final at-bat of the afternoon, beating the throw to first and advancing Nicholas Castellanos to second base in order to set up the Tigers’ first run: a two-out RBI single from Niko Goodrum that brought Castellanos home to score.
“I think that at-bat was the perfect at-bat to describe my career,” Martinez told reporters after the Tigers wrapped a 5-4 win over the Royals. “I had to sweat it out. I had to sweat it out the whole way. I had to grind it. That was my whole career.”
Following the hit — and the standing ovation that greeted it — the switch-hitter was promptly replaced by pinch-runner Ronny Rodriguez, who subbed in at second base in the top of the second while Goodrum shifted from second to first base. Taking Saturday’s performance into account, Martinez polished off his big league career with a lifetime .295/.360/.455 batting line, 423 doubles, 246 home runs, 1,178 RBI, and 28.4 fWAR across 1,973 games and three separate stints for the Indians, Red Sox, and Tigers. His accomplishments at the plate have been decorated with five All-Star nominations, two Silver Slugger Awards, and the designated hitter-exclusive Edgar Martinez Award following a career-best campaign in 2014.