Results tagged ‘ Victor Martinez ’

Caravan notes: Cabrera stays upbeat about V-Mart

20120119-234928.jpgEverybody on the Tigers feels the loss of Victor Martinez, likely out for the season with a torn ACL in his left knee. But nobody is more likely to feel the aftereffects than Miguel Cabrera, the reigning AL batting champion and Tigers cleanup hitter. After all, the Tigers signed Martinez last winter to support Cabrera.

Cabrera, though, isn’t feeling the loss. Martinez won’t be in the lineup, Cabrera said, but he’ll still be a presence.

Apparently, Cabrera talked with Martinez this week, after the extent of the injury became clear.

“He told me, ‘Don’t get down. I’m going to work hard to get past the injuries,'” Cabrera said. “‘I’m going to do a lot of things to stay with the team. I’m going to support you a lot. I’m going to stay with you and hopefully get back on the field soon.'”

The field part is a question mark. Though the timetable from doctors and others have been through ACL surgery suggest anywhere from 8-10 months of recovery, Cabrera holds out hope Martinez could return by year’s end and be ready for the postseason.

The leadership aspect, the energy, seemed to be the biggest thing on Cabrera’s mind for Martinez. He saw the difference last year that Martinez brought. Even if Martinez isn’t physically around for most, if not all of the season, Cabrera still expects him to be a presence.

“I think even if he’s out for three months, four months, whatever he’s out, I think he’s going to be part of the team,” Cabrera said. “I think he’s going to be with us, he’s goinig to call everybody and we can call him. I think we’re going to be the same family.”

The bigger question on many minds, the question of how Martinez’s physical absence in the lineup affects Cabrera, wasn’t quite as big of a concern for him. When asked about the potential of how pressure on him, Cabrera politely shook his head.

“No, no, I don’t see it,” he said. “I’ve learned a lot of things about putting more pressure on yourself, and that’s no good. You have to go out there and do what you can control and do what can you do to lead to wins. We’re going to keep focused the whole year.”

He definitely didn’t look worried Thursday; he looked pretty relaxed at the Tigers’ winter caravan stops. While some Tigers took part in movie trivia at a fan rally at Birmingham’s Palladium 12 Theater, Cabrera caught a ball and a pen from a kid in the seats and signed.

Delmon not distracted by batting order: Delmon Young isn’t really worried about where he’s going to bat in the order with Victor Martinez. Whether he hits third, fifth or eighth, he knows his job is to drive in a runner in scoring position.

No, what matters more to Young is knowing that his name’s going to be in the lineup.

After 3 1/2 years in Minnesota, Young knows about dealing with injury-depleted lineups. Losing Martinez hurts, but it isn’t new territory for him, whether it impacts his spot in the order or not.

“I learned a lot in Minnesota in 2008 when [Michael] Cuddyer missed [a half] season,” he said. “And in 2009, when we went to game 163, we had [Justin] Morneau down the second half of the season, and guys just had to step up. In 2010, Morneau missed the second half of the season.

“So when guys are MVP-caliber players and you lose them, you can’t try to do too much. You just have to have everyone come in and play their own game. And whoever is the guy that comes in for them has to play their own game. Because if you try to put up the .330, 100 RBI type numbers Victor puts up, that’s rare. There’s only six or seven guys in Major League Baseball that batted  .330-plus last year. You can’t go in and try to replace Victor, because you’re not going to do that.”

Young’s best numbers, coincidentally, came in 2010, when Morneau suffered a concussion around the midway point that cost him the rest of the year. Pressure wasn’t the factor, he said.

“No, I just knew I didn’t have to check the lineup anymore,” he said, “just like when I got here. Jim [Leyland] said, ‘You’re playing every day. If you need a day off, come talk to me.’ So I never had to go check the lineup and have a daily tryout to see if I could make the lineup the next day.”

Victor Martinez suffers knee injury, likely out for 2012

So much for that quiet Tigers offseason. The team announced today that Victor Martinez suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during offseason workouts. If surgery is required, it’ll likely sideline him for the entire 2012 season.

Dave Dombrowski and head athletic trainer Kevin Rand are scheduled to talk about the injury later this afternoon, so we’ll know more about what the Tigers do from here after that. It paints the Yoenis Cespedes sweepstakes in an entirely different light, and it could put the Tigers in the market for another bat, though likely not on a long-term deal.

Cabrera wins Luis Aparicio Award as Venezuela’s best

Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera will watch his case unfold for a few postseason awards in the coming weeks. His status as the best Venezuelan player in the Majors this year was unquestioned, which is why he was a unanimous choice to receive the Luis Aparicio Award.

Venezuelan and other Spanish speaking baseball writers vote each year on the award, presented to the most prominent baseball player in the regular season. Cabrera finished a close second to Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez last year and lost out to Felix Hernandez in 2009, but his first-ever batting crown and the Tigers’ rise to their first division title in 24 years left him with no major challengers this season.

While Cabrera received all 100 first-place votes, his Tigers teammate Victor Martinez took second, barely edging out Cleveland shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera.

Cabrera became just the fourth Venezuelan-born player ever to win a big-league batting title this year, using a torrid closing week to finish at .344 and beat out Texas’ Michael Young and Boston’s Adrian Gonzalez. He became the first Tiger to win a batting title since fellow Venezuelan Magglio Ordonez won it in 2007.

Cabrera also led the league with 48 doubles, fueling a .586 slugging percentage that ranked second among AL hitters and second-best among his career numbers.

Nobody in the American League played in more regular-season games than Cabrera. The only game he missed was the game he was away to be with his wife for the birth of their third child.

Ordonez’s batting title made him the last player to win the award by a unanimous vote, so it made sense that Cabrera did the same. In the process, Cabrera became the first position player to win the award twice, having done so with the Florida Marlins in 2005. Johan Santana is the only other two-time winner in the award’s eight-year history.

Cabrera will return to Venezuela to receive the award in a ceremony Nov. 18 prior to a Venezuelan Winter League game in Maracaibo. That is the hometown of Aparicio, the only Venezuelan-born player in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The 10-time All-Star and nine-time Gold Glove winner set a defensive standard at shortstop for his generation while also leading the American League in stolen bases in each of his first nine seasons.

Wrapping up the Tigers’ injuries

You had a feeling, didn’t you, that whenever the Tigers’ season ended, you would be hearing a more up-front report on all the Tigers’ injuries. And for the most part, we got that last night. Yet somehow, it wasn’t as bad as expected.

Alex Avila opened up a bit about the shape of his knees.

“I’ve had tendinitis building up in my [left] knee since July from a sprain that I had,” Avila said. “I felt I could continue to play with it, and I did. Without the rest, it just gets a little bit worse. And then, when I stepped on [Robinson] Cano’s foot [in the Division Series], everything kind of resurfaced after that.”

Playing through that, he said, brought on problems in the other knee, the right knee, because he was compensating. He underwent a cortisone shot during the playoffs that helped.

Surprisingly, though, he said that the team medical staff doesn’t think there’s anything that would require surgery.

“If there was anything structurally wrong,” he said, “I probably wouldn’t be able to catch. That was the reason why I kept playing, that I knew it couldn’t get any worse. I just had to deal with discomfort. Just get the MRI to make sure, and with rest, I’ll be good as new.”

As for Victor Martinez, manager Jim Leyland said he had “three or four things going on,” from the knee sprain in August to the toe injury that had to be drained to the intercostal strain. The only one that would seemingly be a major concern going into the offseason would be the knee, though we didn’t get any definitive word on that.

The injury you didn’t expect that we learned about last night was Miguel Cabrera. He injured his right shoulder when he tried to run over Mike Napoli at home plate in Game 4.

“It was all muscle,” Cabrera said, alleviating any concern he popped his shoulder out. It might have been more around the triceps.

Obviously, it didn’t affect him at the plate, where he closed out his season last night with a two-homer game, but he said he couldn’t throw. That explained why his warmups between innings were different.

He’s going to get it checked out, just to be on the safe side.

“I have to talk to a doctor,” Cabrera said. “They took good care of me with treatment. They did a good job.”

Martinez, Young both in Tigers lineup

Victor Martinez woke up alive Wednesday morning, rolled out of the bed and rolled back into the Tigers lineup for Game 4 of the American League Championship Series. So, apparently, did Delmon Young.

As a result, the Tigers are about as close to full strength in their lineup as they can be for what shapes up as a critical swing game in this series, which took a turn with Detroit’s win in Game 3 Tuesday night.

“It looks like Victor’s a go,” Leyland said Wednesday afternoon, “and Delmon [Young] is a question mark.”

At that point, Leyland was waiting for final word from the Tigers medical staff. Once he got it, Young was ruled in. The only change in his situation is that he’s batting fifth instead of third.

Martinez strained an intercostal muscle on his right side on his home-run swing in the fourth inning Tuesday night, which left him hobbling around the basepaths. He seemed on his way out of the lineup, having slammed his helmet and limped down the stairs into the training room as soon as he reached the dugout.

“The only way I don’t play [in Game 4],” Martinez said Tuesday night, “is if I wake up and I’m dead.”

Nobody seemed to doubt him.

“Victor Martinez is one of the toughest guys I’ve ever been around,” Leyland said. “I’m talking about tough. I take my hat off, and Delmon Young the same. … Players on both teams are tough, and I think they’re showing that. And I think they’re showing why they’re who they are. Big time players, they expect to be in a lineup. They know the fans want to see them in the lineup. They know it helps their team.

Even with Young back, Miguel Cabrera is staying in the third spot, with Martinez batting cleanup. That seems to be an acknowledgement of Young’s limitations with his left abdominal strain. He had been batting third in front of Cabrera while he was healthy.

If Martinez couldn’t play, Leyland said, Young could have been an option at designated hitter. However, Leyland said he wasn’t willing to do that Tuesday night when it appeared Martinez might have to leave the game. Wilson Betemit had a bat in his hands in the Tigers dugout, and would have hit for Martinez if he couldn’t go.

“You really have to sit down and think about if the guy wants to play,” Leyland said. “I appreciate that, but if his effectiveness is not good because of this, just to put him in there, maybe you’re not always doing the right thing. So that’s a little bit of a tough situation.”

TIGERS

  1. Austin Jackson, CF
  2. Ryan Raburn, RF
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
  4. Victor Martinez, DH
  5. Delmon Young, LF
  6. Alex Avila, C
  7. Jhonny Peralta, SS
  8. Ramon Santiago, 2B
  9. Brandon Inge, 3B

P: Rick Porcello

YANKEES

  1. Ian Kinsler, 2B
  2. Elvis Andrus, SS
  3. Josh Hamilton, CF
  4. Michael Young, 1B
  5. Adrian Beltre, 3B
  6. Mike Napoli, C
  7. Nelson Cruz, RF
  8. David Murphy, LF
  9. Yorvit Torrealba, DH

P: Matt Harrison

Postseason roster, rotation getting a few hints

Jim Leyland isn’t close to determining his postseason roster or rotation, he said Tuesday. But he laid a few hints towards the formation of it.

  • Jacob Turner will start Thursday’s series opener against Baltimore. Doug Fister will be pushed up tomorrow night to piggyback Max Scherzer’s start here in Kansas City. Leyland didn’t explain it, but he didn’t have to: Five days from Wednesday is next Monday, and five days from that is Saturday, the date for Game 2 of the AL Division Series. By moving up Fister, Leyland gives himself the option of starting Fister in Game 2 on regular rest.
  • Leyland said he’s “95 percent sure we will have an extra player, because we will have 11 pitchers.” The Tigers need just four starters for the postseason, not five. That spot that would normally go to a starter can go to either a reliever or a position player. Leyland all but confirmed it’s a position player.
  • Leyland said he doesn’t think Victor Martinez will catch a game again this regular season. Combine this bullet point with the one above, and Omir Santos’ chances of making the postseason roster as a backup catcher look better than they did last week.
  • No idea yet whether Carlos Guillen will be ready for the postseason. Guillen said today he’s feeling a little better, but it’s still very sore, and he still can’t so much as hit. He’s believed to be another candidate for that final spot, but Leyland confirmed that if Guillen can’t play in a regular season game the rest of the way, he won’t be on the Division Series roster.
  • Al Alburquerque is slated to pitch in relief tonight. If that goes all right, he should be good to go for the playoffs.
  • Leyland confirmed what he had already strongly suggested: Justin Verlander will be set up to pitch Game 1 and Game 5 in the Division Series.

Martinez scratched with lower back spasms

Victor Martinez had managed to stay in the Tigers lineup for two weeks after spraining his left knee in Kansas City. But on Monday, it was a bout of lower back spasms that knocked him out. He was a late scratch from Detroit’s batting order.

Martinez was slated to bat in his usual spot behind Miguel Cabrera. Without him, Alex Avila moved up to the fifth spot in the order for just the second time this season. Cabrera took the DH spot, while Don Kelly was inserted into the lineup at first base, batting eighth.

Martinez is batting .326 (15-for-46) with two home runs and six RBIs over the last two weeks. His absence tests the depth of a Tigers lineup that has spread out its damage in recent weeks up and down the order.

After 14 innings, what’s next for Tigers

The challenge when a team loses a game like this is usually mental and physical. Mentally, the Tigers seemed to be handling it fine. It was a lost opportunity to gain another game on their AL Central lead, for sure, but they weren’t terribly worried.

“It was a heckuva game, a terrific game,” Jim Leyland said.

Said Daniel Schlereth: We came out on the losing end tonight, but you know what, that’s baseball. That happens. We’re going to sleep on this and get rid of this game. We’ll be back here ready to win tomorrow — er, I’m sorry, later on today.”

Then there’s the physical toll, which make take a little longer to determine.

With Victor Martinez’s knee uncertain for catching duties, Alex Avila caught all 14 innings Tuesday. He said he’ll be ready for Wednesday’s game like it was any other.

“I’m pretty tired,” he said, “but I’ll be ready to go.”

Leyland wasn’t quite so sure.

“That’s one I’ll have to think about,” he said. “That’s a tough one.”

His bullpen might be another issue. The only reliever who wasn’t used was closer Jose Valverde, and he can’t exactly be an innings-eater. Everyone else pitched at least four outs except for David Pauley, who took the loss in the 14th.

The good news for the Tigers is that they have Rick Porcello and Justin Verlander pitching the next two games, so they’re not expecting heavy use out of their bullpen. But even if Porcello gives them seven strong innings, they’re going to have to find someone to pitch the eighth, and he likely won’t be a fresh arm.

Considering it was around 2 in the morning, Leyland wanted to sleep on it before deciding anything. He’ll have to sleep fast, even with a night game Wednesday.

We came out on the losing end tonight, but you know what, that’s baseball. That happens. We’re going to sleep on this and get rid of this game. We’ll be back here ready to win tomorrow — er, I’m sorry, later on today.”

Martinez’s chances for Tuesday sound good

Neither Victor Martinez nor Tigers manager Jim Leyland said they expect Martinez in the lineup for the Tigers’ series opener at Cleveland on Tuesday. But they sounded increasing optimism that he could be.

“I think so,” Leyland said before Sunday’s game, “but I can’t swear to that. I don’t know what’s going to happen. … As we always say, the only thing that ever takes care of injuries is time. But I don’t think it’s going to take that much time.”

After the game, Leyland said, “He’s doing good. He’s doing really good.”

Martinez sounded similar.

“I feel pretty good,” he said. “I’m obviously a little sore. I think the off-day [Monday] is going to help a lot.”

What to make of Penny, Martinez

Brad Penny and Victor Martinez have a failure to communicate (Getty Images)

The day the Tigers introduced newly-signed Brad Penny to local media on a conference call back in February, Penny went out of his way to praise Victor Martinez, with whom he had worked in Boston two years earlier:

“What I liked about Victor is he was never negative in any way,” Penny said. “If you’re struggling and he comes out to the mound and talks to you, it’s all positive. I mean, you can see he just knows you’re going to get out of it and do good. You can see it in his eyes. I mean, like I said before, what a great teammate. You guys are going to be really impressed with him as a person, not only as a player.”

On Thursday, after Penny gave up seven runs on nine hits over 3 1/3 innings, he was trying to defuse what became a very public disagreement between him and Martinez on the mound in the middle of his fourth and final inning.

“He hadn’t caught me in a while,” Penny said. “It had nothing to do with pitch selection or anything like that. With a runner on second, I like come set taking signs. That way, the hitter can’t look at second base and anything there. I’ve pitched my whole career that way and he didn’t want me to do it. I know there’s no other way for me. I guess it’s a habit. It’s natural. I’ve done it my whole career. It’s not that big of a deal. Me and Victor have been friends for a while now and that happens when you’re competing.

“It’s not that he wasn’t used to catching me. That had nothing to do with pitch selection or how I pitched today. It was totally the complete opposite of that. It was just when I was coming set taking signs.”

Martinez, for his part, wasn’t talking about it.

The calendar shows Penny has a point: Martinez hadn’t caught him since June 26 against Arizona. Alex Avila had caught Penny’s past four starts until Thursday. That said, pitchers and catchers have disagreements around baseball, and very few of them result in them yelling in each other’s direction.

There’s no sign of any escalating problem between Penny and Martinez, or Penny and anybody. But it seems entirely safe to read a frustrated Penny. If that back-and-forth didn’t show enough, Penny’s handing of the ball to Lloyd McClendon before he even reached the mound to make the pitching change two batters later probably did. He has taken a beating his last two starts, and Thursday’s loss saw him give up his second-highest total of extra-base hits this season. His ERA rose from 4.51 to 4.89.

Penny has had good and bad second-half numbers over the years, so there’s nothing consistent to read there. But his location issues over the last couple starts have been problematic. He had the time to work those out last start, and he eventually settled down to go seven innings. His problems in the fourth weren’t going to allow him that luxury this time. His frustration level Thursday was unlike anything he had shown all year.

No team chemistry problems have been obvious; in fact, Penny has been anything but isolated in the clubhouse. Still, it’ll be interesting to see how this incident plays out in his next few starts. The Tigers can’t catch Avila every game, and Martinez has caught Penny more than he has caught any other starter. If Martinez and Penny don’t work together for a while, he’ll have to catch Max Scherzer, Rick Porcello or the fifth starter, because Avila and Justin Verlander simply work together too well to break up.

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