Tigers adding Santos, but waiting on Martinez

The Tigers know enough about Victor Martinez’s groin injury that he won’t be catching again for a while. Thus, they’re adding Omir Santos as a backup catcher.

What they don’t know yet, but will decide later today, is whether Martinez will be out long enough to justify a stint on the disabled list. Until they determine that, they’re keeping the back half of their roster move open until sometime before first pitch.

Martinez aggravated a right groin injury in his first plate appearance Monday against the Mariners and was lifted for a pinch-runner. He was hobbled enough that manager Jim Leyland already planned on not using him at catcher for at least the next few days, instead starting him at his usual spot as Detroit’s designated hitter.

After Monday’s setback, the question now is whether Martinez can play at all for a while. Either way, though, the Tigers are down a catcher, which led them to purchase Santos’ contract from Triple-A Toledo.

The Tigers gained roster flexibility by having Martinez simultaneously serve as their primary designated hitter and second catcher, but they also put themselves in a position where they can’t go long without him. After Avila and Martinez, the next catcher on the depth chart was utilityman Don Kelly, who added catching duties to his resume this spring in case Detroit had an injury during a game or needed to make some late-game switches.

Under no circumstances, though, was Kelly seen as more than an insurance measure. That’s why the Tigers signed Santos to a minor-league contract over the winter. The soon-to-be 30-year-old shared catching duties with the Mets in 2009, batting .260 with 14 doubles, seven home runs and 40 RBIs in 96 games before suffering an injury-shortened 2010 season.

Santos missed most of Spring Training with a broken toe, but returned to catching duties last week at Triple-A Toledo, where he went 6-for-14 with four RBIs in four games.

If Martinez ends up going on the disabled list, the Tigers will have some juggling to do with their lineup to replace the hitter they signed to bat behind MVP candidate Miguel Cabrera.

Martinez had shown strong signs in recent days of climbing out of a slow start. His second-inning single Monday was his fifth hit in 10 at-bats since Saturday, and it raised his average to .250 to go with two home runs and nine RBIs. Earlier in the at-bat, though, he had aggravated his groin strain moving on a pitch he took from Mariners starter Jason Vargas.

Martinez jogged gingerly to first, then advanced slowly to second on Brennan Boesch’s single. That was enough for manager Jim Leyland to lift him for pinch-runner Casper Wells.

After the game, Martinez hoped he might be able to return in a few days. But Leyland, who had taken a risk by putting him back in the lineup so soon after he originally strained his groin Saturday, was already plotting some sort of roster move.

“I’m sure we’re going to have to do something,” Leyland said.

Martinez isn’t likely to play at all for the next few days, which might actually provide a small silver lining if it allows Magglio Ordonez to ease back into the lineup at DH and limit the wear and tear on his surgically repaired right ankle.

9 Comments

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I’d be very hesitant to put Boesch in the 5-spot after his good start. JL needs to be flexible here. How about Brennan 3rd and Magglio 5th? Maggs has the advantage of being a veteran, and it’s not etched in stone that he must hit third. In fact, this would give us more speed on ahead of Cabrera.

Groin strains are serious business. He obviously was/is in pain. Better to be safe than sorry.

Ugh, Miggy! Should have pled guilty like I told ‘ya. No contest, for cripes sake.

Here we go again. How do we keep these guys healthy? I think JL (and I thought this before the game yesterday) would be stupid to play VMart at all if he was complaining of a groin or hamstring. I wasn’t entirely sure which it was supposed to have been but regardless, Martinez had said he hurt it swinging. Duh. I guess that means the rigors of catching should not have been the only factor in deciding on if he was playable. I mean, Golly, Geez, even if he hits the ball he has to run!!!!
JL is such a double talker that you can really never believe what comes out of his mouth. “To be honest with you”.
This is a serious issue. And Rich is dead on about not putting Boesch back in that slot. The kid is going pretty good and to revive that horror story from last year would putting bad money after good.
Not sure if this explains any of VMarts slump but they need to get him better. Even with him in the lineup they did not have enough OOOOMPH to make the lineup dangerous.
The only guys that are having good ABs somewhat consistently right now (other than MCab the Notorious) are Avila and Boesch.
The way things are going I expect we will see Rhymes AND Austin sent down. Leyland will not hesitate with his 7th inning experimentation failures either. Villareal and Schlereth had their manager seething (IMHO). I would not be surprised to see Furbush brought up and stuck in the pen.
Oliver I think they will make sure to give some more starts before they risk changing him. He is more valuable than Charlie.
I would also not be surprised at all to see Clete and Scotty Sizemore called up.
Leyland is flailing and even with a win it was a Phyrric victory to be sure.

Victor said he was hurting so why didn’t the SOC order him to get heallthy. We have Alex who is doing great. I think I heard somewhere if someone starts out a conversation with “to be honest with you”………
Give Wells a chance and send AJ to Toledo. I thought maybe Miggy 3rd, BB 4th, and Maggs 5th.. –Dave

Dan- Agree with you on Rhymes, disagree with you on Jackson. Reason: Jackson’s defense is crucial in CoPa. Especially with Ordonez and Boesch playing. Sizemore is hitting in Toledo, he might be coming up sooner than later. As far as bullpen, I think Gonzales needs to go, just not effective. I think they like Furbursh as a starter, would it be beneficail to use him in long relief… maybe. Good news for Tigers fans, Oliver and Turner and progressing. Both started last night and statistically did well.

I see your point on AJ in CF but we need hits and we need him to get on. We can’t afford to throw away outs. Too many 200 hitters to compensate for.
I think if he goes down he will figure it out. Meanwhile, we keep hearing how great a fielder Wells is and Clete can play some too.

I guess I just don’t want to see this guy’s confidence ebb so far as to be hitting .100

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