PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — After a bad day at the plate last Wednesday, Rafael Devers found J.D. Martinez in the Boston Red Sox locker room.

“What did you see?” Devers said after an ugly 0-for-2 day against the Pirates.

“Same guy,” Martinez answered. “Swinging at everything.”

The door is always open to access Martinez’s wealth of baseball knowledge. But as the Red Sox attempt to unlock Devers’ other-worldly potential – just a year ago David Ortiz predicted Devers would be an MVP candidate – it’s up to the 22-year-old third baseman to decide what kind of player he’s going to be.

Thus far Devers has surpassed most expectations for anyone his age, and the common consensus is he’s done it almost entirely on pure talent. He made his MLB debut before his 21st birthday, became the youngest regular position player in the big leagues and has since connected on 31 homers, going deep off Justin Verlander, Aroldis Chapman and Trevor Bauer, among others.

The next step for any young player is to avoid getting by on talent and learn to better understand it.

Martinez looks at Devers and wants to help, just as he’s helped so many others, but Devers has to want it.

“Everybody has different personalities,” Martinez said. “He’s a great kid, a great heart. Some kids like Mookie Betts are just infatuated with hitting. Then there are ones that are kind of just listening and do what they’re told. That’s not a knock. Just different.

“Devers is a natural hitter. He’s always been a natural. He doesn’t play well when he thinks. You just have to guide him in the right direction and he’ll get it.”

Last year Manager Alex Cora directed Martinez to stick to Betts like a magnet after Martinez signed with the Sox late in the spring.

Betts and Martinez clicked quickly. It was easy – both are obsessed with hitting and the details that can make or break a career. There’s been a slower connection with Devers.

“I haven’t had much time to work with him and talk to him. We’ve been on different schedules, but from what I’ve seen he’s definitely watching and tip-toeing around it,” Martinez said.

Some days he’s like, ‘I’m in.’ Other days he’s like, ‘Whatever.’ But he’s a great talent, man. I tell him all the time, his abilities, the sky’s the limit for him. He just has to really dedicate himself to this and what he wants to do in this game.”

Devers appears to be more of a free spirit with a fun-loving, childlike personality who never stops smiling, or swinging. For those reasons his teammates show him love. And for those same reasons they see room for him to grow.

He leads the Red Sox in hits with 11 in 23 at-bats. The success, Cora thinks, is because of the way he’s controlled himself from swinging at bad pitches. But it comes and goes.

So Cora has been batting Devers third, even on days when the lineup includes most of the Red Sox regulars.

“I’m going to challenge him,” Cora said. “That doesn’t mean he’s going to hit third during the season, but he knows. I talked to him about it. And I know what he wants. He wants to hit in the middle of the lineup. And if he comes through, we’ll take advantage of that.”

Devers has days like last Wednesday, when he reverts to old habits and swings wildly at bad pitches.

“He’s matured a lot since I saw him at the beginning of last season,” Martinez said. “He was just going up there and letting it flow. If he hit it, he hit it, that kind of thing. Now I think he has more of an idea. He understands, ‘I need to do this, I need to do that.’ That comes with age.

“Before it was like, ‘What are you doing, what are you working on?’ ‘Nothing, just hitting.’ ‘Well, OK, let’s talk.’ But when you’re young you’re just trying to hit.”

Hitting coach Tim Hyers said the 22-year-old Devers is beginning to think more actively about the game.

“There’s a two-way conversation now,” Hyers said. “It’s not just us feeding information to him. So now, as a hitting coach, I’m seeing the progression that we’re onto something. That’s a really good sign when he came in the other day and said, ‘I want to work on this. I expanded in and want to make sure my sights are in this spot.’ So he just worked on that for a while. For a young guy to use his time wisely like that, it was really neat to see.”

Martinez also is starting to notice the maturity.

“It takes time,” Martinez said. “Some people want it, they want information now. Some people like Mookie won’t leave me alone when it comes to this. Devers is more of, ‘OK, I see it.’

“It takes them struggling to go searching for it. If someone would have told me when I was coming up, ‘Hey, J.D., you have to do this and that,’ I would have told them, ‘get the heck out of here.’ But he’s working. He’s bought into some stuff.”

If he’s going to be the No. 3 hitter for Boston, Devers knows he has to learn to control the strike zone and avoid getting himself out.

“It would be an honor to hit third, but I have to keep working and show that I deserve to be there,” he said.

He knows Martinez is always there for him if he’s ready to sink his teeth into the mental side of the game.

“He has so much to offer,” Devers said. “I read his story, how he was in Houston and wasn’t always the best hitter. I read about how he got to where he is. I definitely want to listen to him.”

Listening is a good start.