DETROIT -- As Victor Martinezprepares to spend more time at designated hitter, he can look back onadvice he once received from former teammate Travis Hafner, who hasbeen among baseball's best at that specialized role."He told me that you have to do alot. Maybe people think that it's easy to be a DH. It's hard," Martinezsaid. "You have to keep warm. You've got to go into the weight room andrun the bike and do stuff, stretch yourself. You can't just sit therefor a half an hour, an hour, until you get at bat again and just go outthere and hit. It's not like that."
With a smile on his face andexcitement in his voice, Martinez was at Comerica Park on Saturday forTigerFest, Detroit's annual winter fan event. The Tigers signedMartinez this offseason, and they hope the 32-year-old switch-hitterwill be part of a powerful middle of the batting order that alsoincludes Miguel Cabrera and Magglio Ordonez.Martinez has been a catcherthroughout his career, but general manager Dave Dombrowski has saidhe'll be the team's primary DH. He's still expected to fill in behindthe plate at times, but Martinez may need to adjust after starting 106games at catcher last season with the Boston Red Sox."I came here to win," Martinez said."If they need me to play DH, I'll be a DH. If they need me behind theplate, I'll be behind the plate."Martinez hit .302 with 20 home runsand 79 RBIs in 127 games with Boston last season. If he produces likethat again, it will be a nice boost for a Detroit team that is tryingto contend for the AL Central title after going 81-81 in 2010.Martinez is familiar with Detroitafter playing for division foe Cleveland from 2002-09. He hit acareer-high 25 homers for the Indians in 2007, when they came withinone victory of reaching the World Series with him as their catcher andHafner as the designated hitter."I was in this division pretty muchmy whole career, and I always liked the way the Tigers approached theirorganization, their team," Martinez said. "This organization - theyjust want to get better."Alex Avila is expected to beDetroit's No. 1 catcher. He hit just .228 last year, but he'll be eightyears younger than Martinez on opening day and should have everyopportunity to improve as a hitter.Avila says he's looking forward to working with Martinez."It's going to be a nice marriagebetween us, as far as the catching and both of us working with thepitching staff, and obviously producing offensively to help the teamwin," Avila said. "It should make for a good partnership."Martinez, who can also play firstbase, started more games at catcher last season than he had since 2007,and it didn't appear to hurt his hitting. Still, the Tigers added himfor his bat, not his glove, and they probably wouldn't mind reducinghis grueling workload behind the plate if it helps him stay healthy andeffective offensively."It's tough," Detroit manager JimLeyland said. "There's an old saying that the first couple at-batsduring the course of the game weren't too bad, but for catchers, as thegame went on, the third and fourth at-bats, it gets a little tough."Perhaps the one concern surroundingMartinez is his career .225 average at Comerica Park. He's hit onlyfour homers there in 169 at-bats.Martinez is quick to creditDetroit's pitchers for that - and now he won't have to face themanymore. As for the ballpark's effect on his home run total, he'll justtry to hit the ball to the gaps and see what happens."I say myself, I'm not a home runhitter. I hit my 20, but I'm more a line drive hitter," Martinez said."I might hit some triples. Watch out."That's quite a statement from Martinez, who has three triples in his entire career, but right now anything seems possible."I'm like a little kid with a newtoy," Martinez said. "I just want to get this thing started. I can'twait. This is going to be a fun ride."