Houston had a number of young players called up to the big leagues in 2011, and outfielder J.D. Martinez saw action in 54 games for the Astros. A right-handed hitter, Martinez, who was a 20th-round pick in 2009, hit .264 with six homers and drove in 35 runs. He recently spoke with MLBPLAYERS.com.
MLBPLAYERS.com: Can you talk about your first big league experience?
J.D. Martinez: It was all very exciting for both my family and me. It's amazing how much can change because of one phone call. Once I got that call it was a matter of getting used to things here and learning as much as I can.
MLBPLAYERS.com: Is there one thing about the big leagues that surprised you?
Martinez: Nothing has really jumped out at me. I mean you expect the pitching, hitting and speed to be better, and it is. All of those expectations have been met. Every day you go out you have to compete because the competition is so good. There are times in the Minors where you can take a day off and still put up good numbers. Up here you can't check out mentally at any point and hope to have success.
MLBPLAYERS.com: Is it beneficial to be playing with a lot of young guys, some of whom you came up with?
Martinez: It's really cool. It allows us to share all the moments together and go through the fire together. All of us have paid our dues coming up through the system and now we get to share in the excitement. You don't feel like such an outsider with all these guys here. They are going through some of the same struggles I am, so I think it creates a strong bond between us.
MLBPLAYERS.com: Is it weird that you were behind Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn on the depth chart and then they were traded?
Martinez: It definitely came as a shock to me. You're talking about two guys who during Spring Training were a great help to me. They were constantly motivating me and giving me tips on how to succeed and get better. The way that it played out and how they aren't here is quite surprising to me and the other guys.
MLBPLAYERS.com: At the plate, you seem to do something before each pitch comes. What is it?
Martinez: Yeah, it's a religious thing that I've always done. It's a little something I started doing after I lost my grandparents. It's something I do to always remind me of them and to keep their memory with me. I do it each time I step up to the plate.
MLBPLAYERS.com: Growing up in Miami, were you a Marlins fan?
Martinez: Definitely. My favorite player growing up was Miguel Cabrera. My favorite memory was the World Series championship, and the fact that I was there for the win. They were always my team because I grew up in the area.
MLBPLAYERS.com: What are your plans for the offseason?
Martinez: I spend my offseason back home in Miami. Growing up a fan of the Dolphins and the Heat, I try to go to as many games as I can.
Jeff Moeller is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.