Martinez looks to keep momentum going

Luis Martinez made tremendous progress during the 2007 season and won over the coaching staff at two levels. The catcher is looking for bigger and better things in the coming season.

You had a great season in Eugene, things go a little slower than you probably would have liked when you got to Fort Wayne, but how did you assess the season and did you meet your own expectations?

Luis Martinez: For the most part, yes. When I went to Eugene I still had my college swing. Once I got to Fort Wayne and started working with Skub – he started making adjustments with me and I struggled with that. Towards the end, I started to get it down.

I talked to Skube a couple weeks back and he says at one point, ‘you didn't even ask me about my favorite player, Luis Martinez.' What was it that clicked between you two?

Luis Martinez: You have to love Skube. He never says anything negative. He is always thinking positive and that is what I love about him. He is always trying to work with you, and if he sees you working at it, he will work with you even more. That is what I did – I tried to learn as much as I could during the short time I was there. Skube is a great guy.

As a catcher you have it tough. You begin the year in Eugene learning all these pitcher and are suddenly shipped off to Fort Wayne to learn a whole new set of guys. How difficult is that?

Luis Martinez: It is not too difficult. You work in the bullpen everyday so you get used to the guys pretty quickly. Some guys are harder to catch than others – some throw it in the dirt more often, but it all comes in around the same, 90-92 MPH and same speed. Some guys throw the curveball and you work with those guys in the bullpen to see where it starts and where it ends to get used to that. It is not that hard at all.

Everyone says that catching always comes first. It is the priority – but we all know you have to hit to get to the majors. How do you find the delicate balance?

Luis Martinez: Definitely. You have to try, some way, somehow, to get the work in. If you have to stay after practice to get in the cages and work a little extra than that is what you have to do.

Most of the time, all we get it for BP is 10-15 pitches. The majority of the time is catching bullpens or out doing something on the field catching wise. We definitely have to stay after to get that extra hitting with guys like Skube or Muse (Tony Muser). You have to do what you have to do. It is a little tough being a catcher.

Why did you even try it out then!

Luis Martinez: My college team needed a catcher so I tried it out and I have been there since. It has gotten me this far.

Now I am working as hard as I can. I worked with Carlos (Hernandez) for two weeks and made a big improvement from that. Catching – definitely not a fun position (laughter).

When we spoke in Eugene, you mentioned how much Carlos had helped with pitch outs – you work with him again, what else have you picked up?

Luis Martinez: The footwork on regular pitches, on off-speed, your framing, how to block, your footwork when you are catching with a man on base versus no men on base, how to call a game, when to call a pitch and what situations not to call that pitch – everything, all about catching.

In Fort Wayne, you were kind of in a difficult position because there are a few guys that aren't necessarily quick to the plate. As a catcher, how difficult is that to deal with and is it your spot to say anything?

Luis Martinez: It is frustrating but the first day I got there, Doug Dascenzo told us it is an organizational rule that they don't want the pitchers to slide-step until they got to Double-A. He warned us and I came in not expecting to throw out as many runners as I should have because they are slower to the plate with the higher leg kick. It is frustrating at times but you have to deal with it and do the best you can.

You got a chance to see some of the best pitchers in the system, including Mat Latos. Talk a little bit about him.

Luis Martinez: He just has great stuff. He throws that 95 MPH fastball and his off-speed is ridiculous.

He used to have this forkball that he called a changeup – I don't know why because it is nasty. His slider breaks real well and he can spot it up where he wants.

He is young so he has a lot to learn but for now he has done real well.

What were your impressions of Aaron Breit?

Luis Martinez: A real good pitcher that is smart and knows what he is doing out there. He got into a little trouble out there but really did his job and knows how to pitch.

He seemed to bounce back right about the time you got there.

Luis Martinez: I don't know how he did before I got there but he did real well when I got there. He taught me a lot of things about catching and how to call a game because he is such a smart pitcher.

What is next for you – how do you take the momentum from Instructs into next year?

Luis Martinez: Work, work, work. I didn't take much time off, caught some bullpens with a couple friends I have that also play pro ball. Work everyday.

Do you worry about stamina at all since you have not taken much time off, especially as a catcher and those dog days of August?

Luis Martinez: You get used to it. You definitely get a lot of stability playing catcher. Your legs and body get used to it so it is not too bad. I had about a week between the end of the season and Instructs and I felt brand new. I was actually hitting everyday and wasn't getting tired.

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