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Learning from failure essential for Blue Jays' new hitting coach Martinez

7 9 7

TORONTO – As an infielder in the Marlins’ minor-league system, Guillermo Martinez didn’t handle failure especially well.

He’d lose confidence when he struggled, and as a lifetime .214 hitter in affiliated baseball his patience was tested more than he might have liked. By 2011, his playing career had come to an unceremonious end with the independent Grand Prairie AirHogs.

In the eight seasons since, Martinez has worked with all manner of prospects as a minor-league hitting coach and coordinator. And in those roles, he learned even more about the power of failure – namely, when to seek it out and how to channel it into better results.

Now 34, he’s about to apply those lessons in his highest-stakes role yet: hitting coach of the Toronto Blue Jays. As he begins his new role, he’s ready to share his perspective with the club’s hitters.

“That’s pretty much the biggest thing I try to teach guys,” he says. “How to deal with failure.”

Guillermo Martinez (Toronto Blue Jays)

All of which begs the question: Why would anyone want to court failure in a game where your average hitter makes an out more than two thirds of the time? Even if you did want more failure, where would you seek it?

For Martinez, the answer’s connected to practice. As the Blue Jays’ minor-league hitting coordinator in 2018, he found new ways to build failure into BP. Sure, there’s some psychological benefit to letting hitters crush 60 m.p.h. pitches, and there’s a place for tee work, too. It’s just not going to be enough.

“Everybody needs to realize it’s a really hard game,” Martinez says.

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