Friday, April 3, 2015

Tigers Meet Harlequin: Someone To Come Home To

The Hero: J.D. Martinez

What You Need To Know: Julio Daniel Martinez grew up a Florida Marlins fan and was a two-time All-Sunshine State Conference player during his three years of college ball at Nova Southeastern University.  He was drafted by the Houston Astros in the 20th round of the 2009 draft and in 2012 he was the first player ever to hit a homerun in the garish nightmare that is the Marlin's new ballpark.  After a mediocre career in Houston, they released him outright.  So long, farewell.  On the recommendation of new Detroit Tiger's third base coach Dave Clark, formerly of the Astro's coaching staff, the Tigers signed J.D. to a minor league deal and invited him to spring training.  He didn't see a ton of playing time and was optioned to Triple AAA Toledo and that's when things got interesting.

In 17 games for the Toledo Mud Hens, J.D. posted 10 homeruns, with 22 runs-batted-in (RBIs). When a guy is hitting like that in AAA?  Your hand is forced.  J.D. was called up to Detroit and played his first game with the big club on April 21.  He's been a mainstay in the outfield ever since. He finished the season with a .315 batting average, 23 homeruns, and 76 RBIs.  Meanwhile, Houston went 70-92 finishing fourth place in their division.

His Baggage: J.D.'s story isn't all that uncommon.  Guy breaks into majors.  Guy is mediocre and gets shuffled back and forth between minors and big club.  Guy gets cut in favor of shiny new prospects.  Except what the smart guys do is that they take their "change of scenery" and do something with it.  J.D. knew that if he wanted to keep playing baseball he was going to have to change....everything.  And the first step was his swing, which he completely altered.  He worked out with a friend in California, he fine-tuned the swing while playing winter ball in Venezuela, and once he was in Toledo, seeing regular playing time, he didn't miss "his pitch."  For his part, Martinez holds no ill will towards Houston and is thankful they cut him outright.  In his words, "they could have buried me in AAA."

Proposed Category Romance Plot: Houston is over.  Houston is dead to him.  The veterans had always told him, baseball is a business and only the superstars get to feel settled in one place for any stretch of time.  He didn't listen, had started to build a life for himself and now?  That life is over.  He's not ready to give up baseball and that means he's going to have to go chasing that dream far away from the home, the life, he was starting to make for himself in Houston.  A hard pill to swallow when he looks into the eyes of a certain pretty woman and her 6-year-old son.

The Heroine: She knew it was stupid to fall in love with a baseball player, but she couldn't seem to help herself.  In the sort of outing they can rarely afford, she took her son to his first baseball game last year and after he ran the bases after the game, he wanted to wait in the parking lot and try to meet some of the players.  When he met J.D. he was awe-struck and she found herself dazzled by the handsome ballplayer.  It has been a slow, steady courtship.  He travels a lot, she's worried about protecting her son's heart, even as she's beginning to lose hers.  And now he's leaving.  Off to chase his baseball dream and that means leaving her behind.  He says it won't change anything.  That he loves her, and wants to be with her.  But after years of regret, of being badly burned by her ex, she's not sure she can take the risk of believing every word this man says to her - no matter how much she wants to.

What Category Romance Line?: Home, family, love?  We've got another Tigers Meet Harlequin first time appearance folks - Harlequin Heartwarming!  J.D. has his work cut out for him.  I sure hope his heroine will be willing to take that leap of faith....


Kristie (J) said...

Oh I hope she's willing to take that leap too!! I would if I were her. Now this guy actually looks like her could be on a cover of Harlequin book.
I just read a series of hockey romances and some of the plots had things in common with your Harlequin books other than the obvious difference that yours are baseball and these were hockey - heh, heh, heh. I think you have a real good thing going here.

Kate said...

" the garish nightmare that is the Marlin's new ballpark." LOL! Nice work on matching the chin scruff, too.

Wendy said...

Kristie: It's a romance, of course she'll take that leap of faith! They just need to wade through of mountain of angst to get there :)

Wendy said...

Kate: LOL! I didn't even notice the chin scruff! I was debating between this cover and another one - but that other one kind of had a NYC brownstone vibe - so no good for a ballplayer leaving Houston.