SEATTLE (AP) – Edgar Martinez is busy enough with his day job that having months of advance notice proved beneficial.
The former Seattle Mariners star and current Mariners hitting coach has found enough time to get his speech ready for Saturday night when his No. 11 is retired by the club.
“It means a lot. It makes me reflect on my career, reflect way back when I first started playing and look into the past and make you reflect on the people that have been involved in my life and kind of helped me and in some cases guide and teach me,” Martinez said Thursday. “In those terms, it means a lot because it’s people involved that helped me through all those years.”
Martinez will be the second former Seattle player to have his number retired, an honor that was announced in January. Ken Griffey Jr.’s number was retired a year ago following his induction into the baseball Hall of Fame.
The Mariners have strict guidelines for number retirements, allowing the honor only if a player has been elected to the Hall of Fame or has come close to election.
With Martinez’s significant jump in Hall of Fame balloting this year, the Mariners moved forward on honoring the most popular player in franchise history next to Griffey.
Despite being a mostly ceremonial honor, Martinez believes it could help his Hall of Fame candidacy. Martinez jumped to 58.6 percent in balloting this year and has two years of eligibility remaining. He would become the first player to be primarily a designated hitter voted into the Hall.
“I think it could. We’ll see,” Martinez said. “Only time will tell, but I think this is a positive thing.”
It makes sense for Martinez’s number to be the second retired.
Martinez’s game-winning double in Game 5 of the 1995 ALDS to beat the New York Yankees is widely regarded as a seminal moment in franchise history.
Martinez spent all 18 of his major league seasons with the Mariners and he is considered one of the best right-handed hitters of his generation, finishing his career with a .312 batting average with 309 career home runs and 1,219 career RBIs. He added a .418 on-base percentage and .515 slugging percentage and twice led the American League in batting average and doubles.
The designated hitter of the year award is named the Edgar Martinez Award for a reason.
But this weekend isn’t entirely about celebrating Martinez, who will raise a No. 11 flag on top of the Space Needle on Friday morning despite his dislike of heights. Martinez is in his second full season as Seattle’s hitting coach, moving into the job midway through the 2015 season. The Mariners entered Thursday’s series opener against the Los Angeles Angels with a one-game lead for the second wild card spot in the American League.
In other words, there’s plenty for Martinez to do on top of being honored.
“It is amazing … just the appreciation baseball fans here in the city have for him and what he did for such a long period of time,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “His numbers are unbelievable when you start to look at what he did year after year after year. The on-base, the extra-base, the number of hits, the clutch hits, it was crazy what he was able to do. It’s great that our players get to work with him every day, learn from him.”
Copyright 2017 The Associated Press.