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Arizona Diamondbacks’ J.D. Martinez: I would love to come back

Arizona Diamondbacks right fielder J.D. Martinez bounces a ball off his bat before Game 1 against the Los Angeles Dodgers in a baseball National League Division Series in Los Angeles, Friday, Oct. 6, 2017. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

PHOENIX – The game had just ended. Heck, J.D. Martinez hadn’t even fully undressed out of his Arizona Diamondbacks uniform, and, already, the question was being asked: What about next season? Would he be back? Does he want to be back?

Martinez is due to become a free agent at year’s end, and with the D-backs’ year ending with a 3-1 Game 3 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Division Series on Monday night at Chase Field, the question about Martinez’s future in Arizona was at the forefront of people’s minds, as it has been for weeks now.

“Arizona was awesome. This team was great,” he said, wearing a D-backs hat standing in front of his locker stall in the clubhouse. “This is, obviously, some of the best times I had in my life since playing professional baseball. Going down the stretch and being apart of this, especially with this group of guys, it’s awesome. Obviously, I would love to come back, but I don’t know what the future holds or wherever God wants me to go. But, I hope it’s here.

“But if it’s not, I mean, Arizona will always hold a special place in my heart.”

The D-backs acquired Martinez from the Detroit Tigers on July 18. His impact was immediate.

In 62 games, Martinez batted .302 with 29 home runs and 65 RBI. Twice he was named National League Player of the Week and earned NL Player of the Month for September/October after tying the league record for most home runs in September with 16, four of which came in one game as he became the 18th player in MLB history to hit four homers on Sept. 4 at the Dodgers.

Initially, Martinez was hesitant about joining the D-backs. He felt a sense of loyalty to Detroit, an organization that gave him a second chance after he was released by Houston in 2013.

Martinez, however, quickly discovered he had found a new home.

“The way the guys took me in, the way I just kind of molded in here. I felt right at home within a couple of weeks here. It was awesome,” he said. “I love these guys. It’s kind of hard saying goodbye. It’s one of those kind of weird feelings. Like I said, I don’t know where the future holds. Hopefully I’ll be back. I would love to come back, but I don’t know what’s going to happen or what’s what.”

Martinez is expected to be one of the most sought-after free agents this offseason.

“I have no idea (what it’s going to be like),” he said, laughing. “I’ve never done it before. We’ll see how it goes, I don’t know.”

Martinez, 30, made $11.75 million in 2017. A raise is most certainly expected — he set career-highs in home runs (45) and RBI (104) this season — with some speculating he may be able to command in excess of $20 million a year on a long-term contract.

Of course, the money is nice and deserved, but Martinez also wants to win, which he did with the D-backs, experiencing the postseason for the first time since 2014.

There’s also the connection, the bond if you will, Martinez made with his teammates.

“Some of these guys, I’m sure I’ll be in contact with and I’ll be friends with the rest of my life, the rest of my baseball days. It’s just a bunch of guys that, if I’m not here, when I’m on the other team that I’m going to walk over and be really excited to see everybody; give everybody hugs and shake everyone’s hand and talk about how their families are and stuff like that,” he said.

“Like I said, when I came here, everyone just kind of molded like a family. These are guys that hang out with each other off the field, not just in the clubhouse, um, so it’s, you know, it’s sad.”

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