Tigers contemplated using VMart at third base, to allow Miggy to DH
DETROIT — Victor Martinez’s catching days could very well be over.
The Tigers have been reluctant to put the still-recovering former catcher back behind the plate after he missed all last season following knee surgery.
They may not be done experimenting with their primary designated hitter playing in the field, though.
At the worst of Miguel Cabrera's recent injury problems, manager Jim Leyland contemplated using Martinez as a replacement for the hobbled slugger at third base, allowing Cabrera to just hit in Martinez's DH spot.
“We talked about it in Chicago (when Cabrera first got hurt). Gene Lamont and I talked about it one night. In fact, even had Rafael Belliard tell Victor that there’s a slight, slight possibility this might happen,” Leyland said. “Miggy was OK, so there wasn’t ...
“But sometimes you just have to do what you have to do.”
Once the Tigers ascertained that Cabrera could play through the discomfort, and not hurt himself further — and in fact, heal up while playing — it wasn’t really necessary to keep him out of the field, rendering the theoretical Martinez plan moot.
“I think he’s actually getting better. (Head trainer) Kevin Rand, my question to him was — because we worry about it — can this guy get better, with this injury, if he’s playing? Yes. Because if it wouldn’t get better when he’s playing, then we’d DL him to get it right,” Leyland said.
“He’s feeling better. I check with him every day on it. It’s still the stomach issue, still a big factor, but it’s better and it’s is getting better.”
About the only way that Martinez might end up behind the plate at the moment would be in an absolute emergency, should someone get hurt. Martinez could switch from designated hitter to catch in a pinch, if it was imperative.
“You got Victor there, for emergency catcher, but you’re reluctant because then you gotta put the pitcher in that spot to hit,” Leyland admitted.
“I have a plan in place for a couple of things yet, for the end of the season, but can’t get into it because I gotta wait and see how a couple of things play out. I have a thought process.”
Martinez has started 835 games behind the plate in his 11-year career, 255 games at DH and 153 at first base.
Matthew B. Mowery covers the Tigers for Digital First Media. Read his “Out of Left Field” blog at opoutofleftfield.blogspot.com.