Red Sox notebook

A time to get signals straight

Martinez is eager to work with staff

By Peter Abraham and Amalie Benjamin
Globe Staff / February 19, 2010

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FORT MYERS, Fla. - Victor Martinez did not arrive at the complex in time to join yesterday’s informal workout. But when his teammates returned to the clubhouse, they found Martinez in front of his locker unpacking for his first spring training with the Red Sox.

“This is all new for me,’’ said Martinez, who was acquired from the Indians at the trading deadline last July. “But the good thing is that I get to be with them for a couple of months. That makes things a lot easier.’’

Martinez said it was difficult to get to know the pitching staff after joining the team with two months left in the season. He relied heavily on the advice of fellow catcher Jason Varitek, who broke down for him the tendencies of every pitcher. Now Martinez can learn the staff without the heat of a pennant race.

“This is the perfect time to work on the stuff that you really want to work on,’’ he said. “I got into Boston and it was kind of late in the season, and when you’re in the middle of the race, you don’t really have the chance to work on something.

“But now, definitely it’s the perfect time to get to know the pitching staff and get to work with them.’’

Martinez started 53 games for the Sox last season, 22 at first base. But with Varitek in decline, the plan this season is for Martinez to be the primary catcher. He does not see that as a major adjustment.

“My whole career has been as a catcher,’’ said Martinez. “Because I play a few games at first base, that doesn’t mean that I’m considered a first baseman.

“They told me I’m going to be the everyday guy. But I took it like I’ve been taking it since I’ve been with the Indians. I’ve always prepared myself to play every day. That’s the only thing that I can control.’’

But still, Varitek will influence how Martinez calls games.

“I’m going to be with Jason. He’s a great guy, great man. That’s why he is the captain,’’ Martinez said. “That’s a guy that really makes a big difference for me in this clubhouse and on this team.’’

Martinez is entering the final year of his contract and hopes the Sox will discuss an extension before the start of the season.

“Who doesn’t want to be here in the long term?’’ he said. “This is a team that everybody wishes to play here, especially a team that’s always in the race, always been in the playoffs.’’

Try again
Jeremy Hermida wore No. 27 during his five seasons with the Marlins and asked for it when he was traded to Boston. But that number, as any good Sox fan knows, was retired in honor of Carlton Fisk.

Hermida then tried for 23, but Mike Cameron used his veteran status to claim that number. He got his third choice, No. 32.

“Good, solid number,’’ Hermida said. “There was no special reason. I just liked it.’’

Now Hermida will have to get used to wearing red after spending his entire big league career with Florida.

“It’s strange to look in this locker and not see black and teal,’’ he said. “I like it.’’

Hermida enters camp as the fourth outfielder. But the Sox project that the 26-year-old will hit for more power than he has shown, and they want to get him regular at-bats. Hermida has played mostly right field but has experience in left and center.

“Nobody has talked to me about my role,’’ he said. “But I’m fine with whatever they want. It’s exciting to be on a team like this. I’m just trying to fit in.’’

The doctor will see you
Pitchers and catchers will take their annual physicals today and do conditioning work in advance of tomorrow’s first official workout . . . Tim Wakefield, John Lackey, and Joe Nelson threw in the bullpen. Wakefield appeared to have trouble finishing off pitches, likely a product of his recovery from back surgery . . . Hitting coach Dave Magadan, a star at Alabama from 1981-83, was named to the College Baseball Hall of Fame . . . Pitcher Casey Kelly lives only about 70 minutes away in Sarasota but rented a condo in Fort Myers for the spring with his friend, catcher Tim Federowicz. “That extra hour of sleep makes a big difference,’’ Kelly said, speaking for 20-year-olds everywhere . . . Righthander Jorge Sosa is having visa issues in the Dominican Republic and was the only pitcher or catcher not to report.

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