Game 39: Next idea on Victor Martinez
Decision time might be coming on Victor Martinez. What the decision involves is another question.
“From the looks of things, I think we’re going to have to at least talk about other options,” Ausmus said of Martinez’s 0-for-4 performance in Monday’s 3-2 loss to the Brewers. But we’ll do that privately.”
Asked if the disabled list is a consideration, Ausmus said, “We’ll talk privately.”
The question at Ausmus’ postgame presser was pretty open, whether the manager had considered any other options on what to do with Martinez. His four days out of the lineup seemed to produce no different results with the bat than playing every day had over the past month-plus. Three groundouts and an infield pop-up dropped him to 12-for-84 batting left-handed, and dropped his spirits further.
“The year I came back in 2013 after missing the whole 2012, it took a lot of time,” Martinez said. “It took pretty much almost through the All-Star break. I don’t know. The only thing I can control, that I can do is just keep battling and keep working hard and see what happens.”
Martinez batted .221 in the first month that year, .235 in May and .240 in June. His splits didn’t turn until July, when he hit .390.
He had an entire season to rehab leading up to 2013. He had this year’s surgery in February. Asked if it feels worse now than it did in 2013, Martinez said yes.
Asked if he’s getting to the point where it’s difficult to tell if he’s helping or hurting his team, Martinez paused.
“I don’t know,” he said thoughtfully. “That’s a good question. Good question.”
He’s open to dropping in the batting order, open to most anything except batting right-handed against right-handed pitching. His answer on the latter remains consistent.
“I mean, obviously the numbers say whatever,” Martinez said. “It is what it is. Something that I’m never going to do and I have never done is just going out there and go righty on righty. …
It could be that which puts the Tigers in a bind. There’s no sense trying to force him to bat right-handed against righties if he has no belief at all that he can. No player can work that way. At the same time, there’s no sense continuing to have him bat left-handed if he doesn’t feel it’s leading to progress.
“I’ve said this before: He started to turn the corner that last road trip — Kansas City, Chicago,” Ausmus said. “And then we came back home and he didn’t look as good, so we gave him three days in St. Louis, hoping that would help. Today, it didn’t look like he was hurt swinging, but he looked like he aggravated it when he was running. Quite frankly, he got down the line pretty good.”
At this point, the Tigers have a choice to make, whether there’s reason to believe the at-bats now will help him in July and August. If they won’t, they either need somebody to complement him from the left side and allow them to manage his at-bats for favorable situations, or they need to determine if a DL stint would make any difference at this point, and how long that might require.
Something, however, seems to be on the horizon.