J.D. Martinez's Mets debut delayed while conditioning continues

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Sunday, April 7, 2024

CINCINNATI --J.D. Martinez's debut with the New York Mets will be delayed as the 2023 All-Star continues to ramp up physically after signing late in spring training, manager Carlos Mendoza said Sunday.

"We're not going to see him in a while," Mendoza said. "He's going to stay down in Port St. Lucie and get more at-bats. He's feeling it. We knew he was going to need a lot of time. Not only with the timing and the mechanics, but overall with his body."

Mendoza said Martinez will take a couple of days off before playing again, most likely on Tuesday.

The 36-year-old Martinez finalized a $12 million, one-year contract with the Mets on March 24. He stayed in Florida at the start of the season for conditioning and went 1-for-8 with a walk in two games this past weekend at Single-A Port St. Lucie.

In 113 games last season with the Dodgers, Martinez hit .271 with 33 home runs and 103 RBIs. He could provide a boost for a Mets offense that has sputtered this season.

The 33 home runs were Martinez's most since 2019, and his OPS of .893 represented his highest since that year.

Mendoza said Martinez could get some reps in the outfield at some point this season, but for now he'll remain a designated hitter.

Martinez had hoped he would need only 15 days to be ready to join the Mets.

Mendoza likened Martinez's physical condition to what position players experience in the second week of spring training.

"We'll be flexible and we'll listen to him," Mendoza said. "It's him telling us how he's responding. It's just fluid between the two sides. That's the fine line we're dealing with here. The last thing you want to do is rush him."

Martinez got a $2.5 million signing bonus, $2 million this year and $7.5 million in deferred money, payable in $1.5 million installments each Jan. 15 from 2034-38.

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