V-Mart to DL, Collins recalled from Toledo (updated)
The Tigers didn’t waste time with their other options regarding Victor Martinez. The team placed their All-Star designated hitter on the 15-day disabled list with left knee inflammation Tuesday afternoon and recalled outfielder Tyler Collins from Triple-A Toledo.
The move comes on the heels of a postgame meeting Monday night between manager Brad Ausmus, team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski and other top Tigers officials to discuss Martinez, who went 0-for-4 with no balls hit out of the infield Monday night after resting his left knee for the better part of four games. Martinez also seemed to tweak his knee when he took a hard step on first base trying to beat out an eighth-inning double play.
“From the looks of things, I think we’re going to have to at least talk about other options,” Ausmus said in his postgame press conference before the meeting. “But we’ll do that privately.”
The Tigers have operated for a month and a half under the belief that a DL stint would do little to improve Martinez’s left knee, which underwent surgery in February to trim part of the meniscus that had torn during offseason workouts. His continued struggles, however, forced them to reconsider, starting with last week’s four-day break from the starting lineup.
While Martinez said he felt a difference running on Monday, a sentiment echoed by Ausmus, the difference meant little with the bat. The switch-hitting Martinez fell to 12-for-85 batting left-handed with Monday’s performance, after which he reiterated that he doesn’t feel comfortable enough batting right-handed against right-handed pitchers.
That leaves Martinez likely facing a longer stint than the minimum 15 days, involving more rehab than rest. At this point, however, the Tigers couldn’t go on longer with the struggles. Last year’s AL MVP runner-up is batting .216 (24-for-111) with three doubles, a home run and 15 RBIs.
The Tigers have several left-handed hitters available at Toledo, but Collins has the most Major League experience. The left-handed hitter, who turns 25 on June 6, hit .248 (28-for-113) for the Mud Hens with six doubles, no home runs, nine RBIs 15 walks, 24 strikeouts and a .639 OPS. He’s 10-for-48 with five walks and 14 strikeouts in May. Collins has fared much better against right-handers, batting .316 (24-for-76) with all of six of his doubles, 14 walks, 13 strikeouts and an .825 OPS.
If the Tigers set up a platoon with Rajai Davis, those splits would play. Fellow Mud Hens outfielder Daniel Fields actually has stronger numbers off righties, batting .321 (25-for-78) with three doubles, two homers and a 1.032 OPS, but also has 28 strikeouts against righties to go with 20 walks.
Still, Collins is not guaranteed regular playing time. The Tigers have turned to Davis against right-handers frequently, including everyday play in stretches last season, and could do so again. Even so, Collins at least gives the Tigers an impact bat on the bench that they’ve frequently lacked.