Trey Martins 4-for-33 start to his stint with the Boise Hawks grabbed the attention of two very important people.
One was hitting coach Bill Buckner, who informed Martin that hed be starting batting practice 75 minutes early to work out the kinks.
The other was his mother, who didnt like the looks of that .121 batting average.
My mom actually told me to take care of her batting average to get me back to going to work, Martin said Tuesday, a day after he was named the Northwest League player of the week and shortly before smacking his third home run to help the Hawks beat the Yakima Bears.
Martins work with Buckner, and the ribbing from his mom, combined to create an offensive juggernaut.
In the past eight games, hes 15-for-30 (.500) with five runs, eight RBIs, three steals, the first three homers of his pro career and just four strikeouts.
In his first nine games, he scored two runs, didnt have an extra-base hit and whiffed an alarming 12 times.
Manager Mark Johnson, who coached the 19-year-old Martin for two months at extended spring training, said the new surroundings were as much to blame as any mechanical flaws for Martins poor start.
He might have been pressing too much, trying to impress (his new teammates) too much and do too many things, Johnson said. I had him for two months in extended and he played like hes playing now really well and consistent.
Martin, the Chicago Cubs 13th-round pick last year out of Snellville, Ga., replaced Shawon Dunston as the Hawks starting center fielder three weeks into the season. It was a close call between them for that job when the season began, Johnson said, but Martin was left with Mesa of the Arizona Rookie League to ensure that both players would be starters.
When Dunston hit .185 in Boise and Martin hit .448 (13-for-29) in Mesa, their roles reversed.
I was a little disappointed (to start in Mesa), said Martin, who hit .243 in 18 games with Mesa last season, but its my job to play the game and not worry about where Im supposed to be at. It meant a lot to me (to get promoted). I wanted to get out of that heat down there.
Unfortunately, he left his hot bat behind, too.
He fights some bad habits dipping his back shoulder, trying too hard to hit to right field, raising his leg too high as the pitch is thrown and discovered that Northwest League pitchers rely more on off-speed pitches than those in the fastball-dominated Arizona Rookie League.
It was very frustrating, he said.
To his credit, he didnt waste any time attacking the problems. Or correcting them.
Everybodys going to struggle its just a matter of when, Johnson said. Its how you deal with it and how you overcome it. Especially at this level. So many guys, its their first time failing at certain things and struggling. It really shows a lot of his character, coming back and staying positive until he got back on track.
Martin has seen some surprise side effects from the work with Buckner.
Lately, Ive been showing a little power, Martin said. It came from nowhere.
Buckner noticed flashes of that power in extended spring and has tried to tap into it here.
Hes a guy who tries to hit the ball straight away, Buckner said, but if you get a ball middle-in youve got to turn on that bad boy and do some damage.
HAWKS 5, BEARS 0
James Pugliese struck out five batters in five shutout innings and the Hawks scored in four of the first five innings to beat the first-place Bears for the second straight night. It was Puglieses first win of the season.
The Hawks improved to 12-20.
Chadd Cripe: 377-6398, Twitter: @IDS_BroncoBeat