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A sometimes-irreverent look at Detroit's Boys of Summer, the Tigers, as they try to return to the top of the American League Central.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Expect to see Victor Martinez in the field next week

DETROIT — Brad Ausmus never really has much of a worry, if he ever needs to take Alex Avila out of the lineup.

He’ll worry about it even less over the next week, with the Tigers on the road in National League cities for five games, in Los Angeles and San Diego.

Plan on seeing Victor Martinez behind the plate during that span. You might also see him at first, and Miguel Cabrera back at third.

“Possibly, yeah. We just can’t have Victor’s bat on the bench for that long of a time,” Ausmus said Saturday morning. “A lot of teams are faced with the issue of having only two catchers, and no emergency catcher. We really — Victor can catch, and Victor probably will catch on this West Coast trip, so it’s not like that’s a concern. I’m not overly concerned if I have to take Alex out.”

The Tigers have options, which is how they set things up in spring training.

To start, the Tigers could throw Avila behind the plate, or his backup, Bryan Holaday.

They could start Victor Martinez, too, as they did late in the season last year, in interleague play. [UPDATE: Martinez will probably start at least one game behind the plate on the road trip, after starting at first base Sunday.]

“I always prepare myself like I’m going to be catching every day, knowing that I won’t be able. Whatever they need me, I’ll be there. I feel good, physically, and I always prepare myself for it,” Martinez said before spring training.

“In my mind. Last year, nobody think I was going to catch and then did. Two games, but I did.

“I’m always ready.”

If someone needs to replace a catcher during the game, Holaday is available, as is Don Kelly, on an emergency basis. Kelly has caught in one big-league game, in a blowout loss to the Giants on July 2, 2011.

Ausmus would do that again in a pinch, although he’d prefer to lose the DH and slide Martinez behind the plate, if the occasion arises.

“For example, pinch running for (Avila) the other day. I wasn’t concerned about pinch running for him. Holaday goes in the game, catching, and if something happens to Holaday, I either shift Victor from DH, or it could be Don Kelly, although Victor would be the first choice,” Ausmus said.

“That’s really not a huge issue. We can handle having the pitcher hit for a few innings, if we have to, in that situation.”


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