Ausmus: V-Mart could catch in NL parks

Remember when Victor Martinez was trying on catching gear Thursday and said he was ready to do whatever the Tigers needed or asked? Well, turns out they had asked him about catching.

“I actually called Victor — this must have been January, right after New Year’s — and asked him about catching,” Brad Ausmus said. “He was thrilled about it. He was excited. I asked him if he wanted to come down with pitchers and catchers.

“There is a reason behind it. We play 10 games in National League parks and the first road trip of the season is L.A. and San Diego. We can’t not have Victor play for five straight games. This gives us another option. I wouldn’t want to just ask Victor the first week of the season, ‘Hey, get some catching gear. You might catch on the next road trip.’ So I told him, ‘Listen, I was hoping you would be open to the idea of catching a little bit.’ So when we get to LA and San Diego and we face a tough left-handed pitcher or maybe Alex Avila needs a day or something, whatever the case may be, we can stick Victor behind the plate possibly. Now, I don’t know if it will happen or won’t happen, but it gives us an option.”

Thus, Martinez was behind the plate Friday morning for the first round of bullpen sessions in Tigers camp. He caught Rick Porcello’s session with relative ease.

As mentioned Thursday, Martinez started three games at catcher last season, two of them against the Mets at Citi Field during Interleague Play in August. He was on a hitting tear, and with Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder at the corners, the Tigers had nowhere else to put him. He didn’t catch at all that spring, not while he was working back into game shape with surgically repaired knees, but Jim Leyland acknowledged he could end up catching later in the year.

This year, Interleague Play comes much earlier. That plus Martinez’s health over the past year make a start or two in Spring Training a much more sensible option.

The Tigers face five more games in NL parks after that — three in Arizona July 21-23, then two in Pittsburgh Aug. 11-12.

Another option Ausmus confirmed is to play Miguel Cabrera at third for some of those games and move Martinez to first.

“It’s been talked about,” Ausmus said. “Again, there will be some things, we have to see how they play out, but it’s been discussed. I actually even mentioned it to Miggy. You know, Miggy is a team guy and he told me, ‘Listen, I still have two gloves. Whatever you need.’ So at the end of March, if you see Miggy play third for a game, you don’t have to immediately say that [Nick] Castellanos is in trouble or [Steve] Lombardozzi’s in trouble. It might be that we’re setting up to have options for these National League games where we want to keep our big bats in the lineup.”

Cabrera mentioned Wednesday that he brought his third-base glove with him.

8 Comments

Both interesting and good news. Look forward to Pittsburgh in August. Maybe V Mart wil catch one of those games. It was fun watching Verlander hit…..(attempt to) hit in that park 2 years ago. Wonderful park to watch a game in.

Doing the Pittsburgh trip, Marty? I’m going to try to make that this year.

Verlander is a better hitter than Hank Aguirre!!! Just nothing to show for it yet.

For the seasons 1967-68-69, Hank Aguirre hit .300 (3 for 10 including a triple). His lifetime BA of .085 is still 85 points higher than JV’s oh! for 26. :)

I plan on it Rich. Will see you there. I have to say, Justin can put a good swing on and he’s not looking for no walk, especially at 0 for 26:-)

I’m sorry. I meant to say “he ain’t lookin’ for no walk”.

Funny how improper grammar on two words looks better than on just one.

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