Tag:Victor Martinez
Posted on: January 30, 2012 12:57 pm

Victor Martinez has surgery, out for all 2012

The Tigers already expected Victor Martinez to miss the 2012 season.

Now it's definite.

Martinez underwent microfracture surgery on his left knee on Friday, the team announced Monday. And that was simply preparation for an ACL reconstruction surgery that he will undergo sometime in the next 6-8 weeks.

At one point, the Tigers thought there was some chance Martinez could return in time for the playoffs, if they make it there. But the decision to have the microfracture surgery before the ACL surgery rules that out.

Martinez should still be able to return without trouble in 2013. In fact, the extra surgery could repair some wear-and-tear damage to the knee, and even make him stronger when he comes back.

The Tigers have insurance on Martinez's contract, which means they will recoup much of the $13 million Martinez is due this year. Of course, Martinez's injury spurred the Tigers to spend that money and more to sign Prince Fielder last week.

Posted on: January 23, 2012 1:49 pm
Edited on: January 23, 2012 1:57 pm

Tigers patient on Victor Martinez replacement

It's been almost a week since the Tigers found out that Victor Martinez would likely be lost for the season with a knee injury, and the team still doesn't have a replacement.

What's taking so long?

Actually, it won't be a surprise if the Tigers' search for a Martinez replacement goes on quite a while longer, perhaps even into the 2012 season.

While the Tigers seem to have some interest in Raul Ibanez, Hideki Matsui and Vladimir Guerrero, and less in Johnny Damon, none of the possible Martinez replacements would provide the Tigers with exactly what Martinez gave them -- a quality switch hitter who gives Miguel Cabrera protection in the batting order.

The other option would be for the Tigers to stick with the players they already have, and to figure out as the year goes along whether they need to spend their resources on a designated hitter to replace Martinez or on filling other needs.

As of now, the Tigers are also without a definite fifth starter. They tried to deal for Gio Gonzalez, but lost out when they wouldn't include both Jacob Turner and Nick Castellanos in the same deal. They showed interest in free-agent Roy Oswalt (even having Justin Verlander put in a recruiting call), but were told that he was not interested in them (and seems headed for either the Red Sox or Cardinals). The Tigers have been linked by some to Matt Garza of the Cubs, but a Garza deal seems a real longshot.

While the Tigers haven't ruled out adding a veteran starter later in the winter, they now seem willing to go to spring training and pick a fifth starter there (with Turner one of the candidates).

Even without Martinez, and without a clear fifth starter, the Tigers should enter spring as the clear favorite in the American League Central. Barring further injuries, they should at the very least be able to remain in contention for the first half of the season, then look to make another midseason deal like last year's trade for Doug Fister.

Posted on: January 17, 2012 3:40 pm
Edited on: January 17, 2012 3:45 pm

Victor Martinez hurt, could miss 2012 season

The Tigers could be without designated hitter Victor Martinez for the entire 2012 season, after the team announced Tuesday that Martinez suffered a serious injury to his left knee in offseason training.

Martinez will be reevaluated next week by Dr. Richard Steadman, but the team said the initial finding is that he has a torn ACL, and the expectation is that surgery will be required.

The injury is a huge blow to a Tiger team that is a strong favorite to repeat as American League Central champions. Martinez hit .330 and drove in 103 runs in his first year with the Tigers, providing strong protection in the batting order for Miguel Cabrera.

The Tigers originally signed Martinez as a combination catcher and DH, but he became a full-time DH late last season and was expected to fill the same role in 2012. His injury could spur the Tigers to sign one of the remaining DH types on the market. Quite a few remain available, including ex-Tigers Carlos Pena and Johnny Damon, as well as Hideki Matsui.

The Tigers are also among the teams most interested in Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes. But even if they sign Cespedes, it's not clear he would be ready to contribute immediately.

Category: MLB
Posted on: October 11, 2011 11:14 pm

Tigers get a win -- and more injuries

DETROIT -- The Tigers are back in this series.

Now, can they stay healthy enough to have a chance to win it?

It was another wild night in the American League Championship Series on Tuesday, and at the end of it the Tigers had their first win. They trail the Rangers two games to one, with a chance to tie the series in Game 4 Wednesday, and with ace Justin Verlander returning for Game 5 Thursday.

Not only that, but Miguel Cabrera's bat looks healthier than it has in days, after a tie-breaking double in the fifth and a towering home run in the seventh.

Speaking of health . . .

Victor Martinez strained an oblique muscle while hitting a home run -- and stayed in the game. Delmon Young, who was off the roster and then back on with an oblique strain, was scratched from the original lineup when he was too sore to play.

Oh, and Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre could barely walk after fouling multiple pitches off his knee and lower leg -- and stayed in the game.

The Rangers depend on Beltre, but at least they have other healthier middle-of-the-order hitters.

With Brennan Boesch and Magglio Ordonez out for the year, with Young more questionable than ever and with Martinez suddenly questionable as well, the Tigers may not.

But they're back in this series, because of Cabrera, because Martinez and Jhonny Peralta also homered (the franchise's first three-homer postseason game since the 1984 World Series), and in large part because of starter Doug Fister, who allowed just two runs in 7 1/3 innings.

Fister is healthy. Cabrera is, too.

Are there enough healthy Tigers around them?
Posted on: September 17, 2011 1:48 am

The Tigers found Fister, and now they're champs

Yeah, there were no impact pitchers available on the July trade market.

No one but Ubaldo Jimenez, and no one was sure that he was a real top of the rotation starter anymore.

No one but Ubaldo Jimenez -- and Doug Fister.

How did we miss him? How did everyone except the Tigers miss him?

"If you hit against him, you know him," Johnny Damon said the other day. "You see the ball. You just can't hit it."

What you see now is the Tigers spraying champagne -- the first major-league champagne celebration this year -- because Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski and his staff identified Fister and went and traded for him.

Justin Verlander is the Tigers' MVP, and he may well be the MVP of the entire American League. Miguel Cabrera is the Tigers' best player, and Victor Martinez may be the most important offseason addition any AL team made last winter.

But just as the Kirk Gibson/Alan Trammell Tigers needed to add Doyle Alexander to win a division title in 1987, the Verlander/Cabrera Tigers needed Fister to win it 24 years later.

Between Doyle and Doug, the Tigers made one trip to the World Series (in 2006), but they never won a division.

Friday, Fister retired 17 in a row at one point. He pitched eight innings and allowed just one run. He improved to 6-1 in nine starts as a Tiger, and he lowered his Tiger ERA to 2.12.

You know the only guy in the last 38 years to make that many starts in a Tiger season with a lower ERA than Fister's 2.12?

Yeah, that would be Doyle Alexander, with a 1.53 ERA in his 11 starts in 2007.

Doyle's Tigers needed an incredible final week, to win the division on the final day. They were spent by the time they got to the playoffs, and lost to the Twins.

Fister's Tigers became the first team to clinch a division (the Phillies clinched a playoff spot earlier this week, but they're waiting to clinch their division before celebrating).

The Tigers have two weeks to get ready for the playoffs, two weeks to line up their rotation.

They'd love to win a few games in those two weeks. They want to stay ahead of the Rangers (who they now lead by two games), so that they'll open at home against the wild-card team (likely the Red Sox). They wouldn't mind winning enough games to pass the Yankees for the best record in the league (they're now three games behind), which would give them home field in a possible American League Championship Series matchup.

"Right now, they look like they could be the scariest team," said Damon, who played for the Tigers last year and plays for the Rays now.

A month ago, baseball people saw the Tigers as a dangerous playoff opponent, simply because of Verlander. Now, scouts watching the American League say they might be the league's best team, because of Verlander, Cabrera and Martinez -- and because of Fister.

They say Cabrera is playing harder -- and running harder -- than he ever has. They say Martinez may get more big hits than even Cabrera.

And they say Fister is the type of starter everyone was looking for in July. The Yankees, the Red Sox, the Indians, the Rangers . . . everyone, probably, except for the Phillies.

The Tigers were the ones who found him languishing with the Mariners. The Tigers were the ones who traded for him.

Now the Tigers are the ones celebrating. They're the first ones celebrating.

And now, the question is whether they'll also be the last ones celebrating.
Posted on: May 15, 2011 10:44 pm
Edited on: May 15, 2011 11:15 pm

3 to Watch: The wild wild card edition

The last time the Yankees and Rays met at Tropicana Field, the games were great.

And basically meaningless.

It was last September, and both teams were headed to the playoffs. One would be the American League East champion, the other would be the wild card. Either route would be acceptable, and you even could have argued that the wild card was preferable (sure enough, the wild-card Yankees won a playoff series while the division champ Rays didn't).

Expanding the playoffs (and punishing the wild card) could take care of the problem, as soon as next year.

But there may not be a problem in the AL this year, if early-season results hold at all. The way things look, there's a real chance that the race for the wild-card spot could be a multi-team free-for-all deep into the season, which would mean no easy fall-back position for the AL East runner-up.

As of Sunday morning, eight of the 11 teams that didn't lead their divisions were within three games of the wild-card lead, with the Tigers in front. Obviously, not all those teams are going to stay in the race through the summer.

But do you want to bet right now that two or three of them don't?

So as the first-place Rays get ready to host the second-place Yankees for the first time this season, here's a suggestion: Win the division, and you don't need to worry about the wild card.

On to 3 to Watch:

1. Josh Johnson has faced the Mets 13 times in his career. He has lost just once, and in five of the 13 starts he allowed either two or three hits. So when Johnson goes against the Mets, as he will in Marlins at Mets, Monday night (7:10 ET) at Citi Field, it's worth paying attention. In his first start against the Mets this year, on opening night in Florida, Johnson took a no-hitter into the seventh inning.

2. The other day, I asked two scouts who had just seen the Rays what they liked about them, other than the starting rotation. The answer: "The starting rotation," both said. And if you want to know why that rotation looks even better than it did last year, look no farther than James Shields, who takes a 4-1 record and 2.08 ERA into Yankees at Rays, Tuesday night (6:40 ET) at Tropicana Field. Scouts say the big difference in Shields is that he is spotting his fastball better, and thus avoiding an over-reliance on his very good changeup.

3. Sunday's rainout in Detroit set up the pitching matchup of the week, with Justin Verlander going against Josh Beckett in Tigers at Red Sox, Thursday night (7:10 ET) at Fenway Park. Verlander is 2-0 with a 1.99 ERA in his last three starts in Boston. It's an interesting two-game series, with the hot Tigers against the recovering Red Sox, and with Victor Martinez returning to Fenway. As bad as the Red Sox catching has been, you think anyone in New England will suggest that they should have kept Victor?

Posted on: May 3, 2011 2:53 pm
Edited on: May 3, 2011 2:58 pm

Tigers haven't lost 8 in row (yet) under Leyland

In the 10 years before they hired Jim Leyland, the Tigers had 18 losing streaks of at least eight games (including six that hit double-digits).

In five-plus years with Leyland as manager, the Tigers have never lost more than seven straight.

They're at seven now, facing CC Sabathia and the Yankees on Tuesday night as they try to avoid making it eight.

Already, the seven-game losing streak forced the Tigers into a roster move. They called up second baseman Scott Sizemore from Triple-A Toledo, where he was leading the International League in hitting.

Leyland also told reporters that he may cut back on slumping Magglio Ordonez's playing time, especially once Victor Martinez comes off the disabled list Wednesday.

How special is it that the Tigers have gone more than five years without an eight-game skid?

Special, but not unheard of.

Seven other teams have avoided an eight-game losing streak in the same span, and two of them -- the Red Sox and Twins -- haven't even had a seven-gamer. The Twins, however, have a current six-game streak, heading into Tuesday's game in Chicago.

The Twins' last seven-game losing streak -- and their last eight-game losing streak -- came in 2003. The Red Sox haven't lost seven or more in a row since 2001, when they lost nine straight.

The other teams that have avoided an eight-game losing streak for at least five years:

-- The Mets, who somewhat surprisingly haven't done it since 2004.

-- The Angels, whose last eight-gamer came in 1999, under Terry Collins.

-- The Phillies, whose last eight-gamer came in 2000, under Terry Francona.

-- The Rangers, whose last eight-gamer came in 2005, under Buck Showalter.

-- The Yankees, whose last eight-gamer came in 1995, also under Showalter.

And the teams with the most eight-game losing streaks in the last five years?

The Orioles and Pirates, with eight apiece (that's eight eight-game losing streaks).
Posted on: May 2, 2011 2:51 pm

Tigers' Martinez also due back this week

As I wrote in 3 to watch, Evan Longoria and Zack Greinke come off the disabled list, too.

Add Victor Martinez to that list.

The Tigers expect Martinez to return to their lineup Wednesday, after missing two weeks with a sore groin. The Tigers are 4-7 in Martinez's absence, losing their last six games.

With Martinez out of the lineup, Indians manager Manny Acta ordered Miguel Cabrera walked intentionally three times over the weekend, including twice in the first inning. Brennan Boesch, filling in for Martinez in the fifth spot in the order, went 0-for-3 after the intentional walks.

The lack of protection has hurt the Tigers, but it's harder to make the case that it has hurt Cabrera. In the 11 games Martinez has missed, Cabrera has hit .359 with a 1.105 OPS and eight RBI.
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