Results tagged ‘ Victor Martinez ’

Four Tigers All-Stars, possibly another

Alex Avila’s campaign for All-Star votes, as led by teammate Justin Verlander, paid off in the end. In his first year as the Tigers’ everyday catcher, he’ll be starting behind the plate for the American League in the All-Star Game.

His starting nod highlights four All-Stars for the Tigers, the second time in three years they’ve had that total. Miguel Cabrera, Jose Valverde and Justin Verlander will join Avila in Phoenix for the Midsummer Classic July 12.

Victor Martinez will have the chance to join them if he can win the All-Star Game Final Vote. Balloting for that began today at MLB.com and runs through Thursday.

For all but one of them, it’s a return to the All-Star Game. For Avila, the first time might well be the sweetest. He becomes the first Tiger voted by fans into the All-Star lineup since 2007, when Ivan Rodriguez, Magglio Ordonez and Placido Polanco all made it. Miguel Cabrera started last year’s game at first base, but did so after Justin Morneau was scratched due to injury.

Avila led all American League catchers in almost every major offensive category, short of home runs. Still, Russell Martin’s hot opening month as a New York Yankee earned him a slew of early votes once fan balloting began in April and May.

The Tigers soon picked up Avila’s cause. Then came Verlander, whose work with Avila as his catcher has resulted in a no-hitter and several close calls already this year. Verlander took to Twitter and just about any other medium he could find to try to encourage fans to vote Avila.

Avila slowly began catching up Martin, but still trailed by more than 400,000 votes as of the last balloting update earlier this week. But Avila garnered the vast majority of the votes at catcher this week before online balloting closed Thursday night.

“Thanks to all the non-Tigers fans who chose the best player,” Verlander wrote Sunday afternoon on his Twitter account. “To all the Tigers fans, thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Best city, best fans.”

Verlander likely won’t get the chance to catch him in the game itself. Though he was an obvious choice for players to vote onto the AL pitching staff, he won’t be eligible to pitch in the Midsummer Classic if he starts for the Tigers at Kansas City next Sunday to close out the season’s first half, as he’s scheduled to do.

With an 11-3 record, 2.32 ERA and just 88 hits over 135 2/3 innings, he would’ve been a strong candidate to start in the game. Still, he’ll be recognized with his third straight All-Star selection, and his fourth overall.

Cabrera makes the All-Star team for the sixth time, the second time as a Tiger. His .329 average entering Sunday ranked third in the AL to go with 17 homers and 56 RBIs. Valverde, 19-for-19 in save chances entering Sunday, is a three-time All-Star.

Verlander, Valverde and Cabrera were all All-Stars last season. It’s the first time three Tigers earned back-to-back All-Star selections since 1985 and ’86, when Lou Whitaker, Lance Parrish and Willie Hernandez made the teams.

Martinez leaves with bruised shoulder, Kelly catches

Tigers catcher Victor Martinez left Saturday night’s rain-delayed game against the Giants after taking a pitch off his right shoulder, leading to utilityman Don Kelly’s first career appearance behind the plate.

Martinez left with a bruised right shoulder after being hit by a pitch from Brayan Villarreal, who entered the game in the third inning after a 2-hour, 36-minute rain delay. Martinez finished the inning after head athletic trainer Kevin Rand attended to him, but Kelly came out of the dugout with catching gear on for the top of the fourth inning.

It was the realization of a insurance plan the Tigers had planned back in Spring Training, but under different circumstances. By working Kelly at catcher, the plan went, the Tigers wouldn’t have to forfeit the designated hitter spot on days when Alex Avila caught and Martinez started at DH.

In Saturday’s case, though, Martinez wasn’t the DH, and Avila was available off the bench. With the Tigers down, 10-0, though, manager Jim Leyland used the opportunity to get Kelly some game time.

Kelly’s first career appearance at catcher came three days after he pitched in Detroit’s 16-9 loss to the Mets. He has now played every position at some point in his Major League career.

Just 55 other players since 1901 have pitched and caught in the same season, according to research on baseball-reference.com. The most recent was Kevin Cash, who did it with the Astros last season.

Add in Kelly’s other appearances this year in all three outfield spots, plus first and third base, and he’s just the eighth player in that time frame to play all those spots in one year. Former Tiger Shane Halter and then-Ranger Scott Sheldon both did it in 2000, doing so while playing all nine positions in a game.

V-Mart likely batting 5th upon return

The question came up this morning: When Victor Martinez returns from the disabled list this coming week, would he go back to batting fifth? Or would he bat somewhere else in the order.

The answer appears to be fifth.

“If he’s ready, I’ll probably put him right there behind Miguel right away,” Jim Leyland said.

That doesn’t seem to rule out moving him to, say, the third spot down the road. But it seemingly rules out an immediate change.

It’s an interesting conflict. Move Martinez to third, and it gives potentially a hotter hitter in front of Miguel Cabrera, not to mention a different look if the top of the order can get on base for the third guy. But that would remove the veteran run producing bat behind Cabrera, and we all saw what happened with that on Saturday.

V-Mart on track for return next week

With a gorgeous afternoon in Detroit, Victor Martinez hit the field to get in his first real workout since he went on the 15-day disabled list. The results were very encouraging for him to return from his groin strain once he’s eligible to come off the DL next week.

“I’m feeling great, man,” Martinez said. “This is the day that I can say it, because this is the first day I went outside and did something.”

Martinez did agility drills, played catch and hit, all without pain. He was among the many Tigers who came out to the ballpark early.

He’s eligible to come off the DL on Wednesday, May 4, the third day of their four-game series against the Yankees.

Around the same time, Rick Porcello was throwing his final side session before he jumps back into the rotation Saturday. They put him on the mound and threw some hitters at him, and he said the 45-pitch session went well. No radar guns that I could see, so unless you’re going on feel, it’s hard to tell whether Porcello was throwing harder.

Messing with Texas: CoPa factor plays again?

Inge (right) celebrates walkoff homer with Miguel Cabrera (Getty Images)Interesting point from Brandon Inge after Wednesday’s win when talking about the Rangers offense cooling off following its fast start over the previous nine games. He gave credit to the pitching staff, and he also gave credit to the ballpark.

To him, there’s a Comerica Park factor going on. And when you consider the home-road disparity that has been going on with this team since at least last year and maybe earlier, it’s worth consideration.

“These guys have been swinging hot bats,” Inge said. “This is where our ballpark plays in our favor a lot. A team like that coming in swinging hot bats, they had three or four balls hit in the last two or three games that probably would’ve been home runs in their ballpark, and that would’ve given them momentum and they would’ve just kept running the bases and putting runs up. But they don’t go out, and those guys now are scratching their heads when they come back in the dugout.

“Our pitchers have more confidence knowing they can go up in the zone and get outs, and you can see where the momentum transfers back over to us. A lot of people complain about this park, but it’s a big park, and both teams have to play in it.”

Ryan Raburn, of course, had the catch to take away a home run. Texas had a double off the right-field wall in the series opener and another that hit the wall on a hop. They had countless others that took Austin Jackson towards the warning track in center field.

The stats suggest this park plays pretty even over the course of a season. But it wouldn’t be a stretch to suggest maybe this park plays a little diffferently before it warms up than it does during the summer.

As for both sides playing in it, Inge says he has talked with new Tiger Victor Martinez about the ballpark factor.

“Victor, he has hit a couple balls [that would've been out elsewhere],” Inge said. “But you know what, it’s not really a bad thing if you embrace it. Hopefully he’ll understand that coming into it. I’ve tried to talk to him a few times. I told him there’s a lot of RBIs to be had in these gaps right here. And that’s where we’re going to win ballgames.

“We’re not here for personal stats. No one should be here for personal stats. And if you get runners on base in this ballpark, and if you can swallow your pride and understand that your home run numbers are probably going to come down a little bit but you can get just as many RBIs by those gaps, it’s just a matter of understanding it and letting it happen.”

On a side note, I’ll be off for the next few days before rejoining the team in Seattle. I’ll be watching the Oakland games on TV and might chime in with a post now and then, but it won’t be the daily lineups and routines that I usually have. Please excuse me while I finally unpack some of the last items in the suitcase from the road.

Martinez: Pitch wasn’t “with good intention”

Just finished talking a little bit ago with Victor Martinez, who didn’t want to say much about the inside pitch from Jose Valdez that prompted him to shout at him. But while Martinez didn’t get into what was said, his views on the pitch were pretty clear.

“It was a pitch that I don’t think was with good intention,” Martinez said. “That’s it.”

Valdez apparently said he wasn’t trying to hit anyone. But given this late stage of Spring Training, the last thing any hitter probably wants to see is an inside pitch that could knock them out of opening day. So when that pitch comes after a Miguel Cabrera home run, nerves get a little frazzled.

Martinez scratched with stiff neck

Victor Martinez was walking around the clubhouse Wednesday, but his stiff neck is going to keep him out of the starting lineup as a precaution. John Murrian, just sent to minor-league camp Tuesday, heads back across the street today to start at catcher.

Leyland confirmed Magglio Ordonez and Jhonny Peralta are getting days off. They were here for the workouts, but they’ll be heading out shortly.
The new Tigers lineup:
TIGERS
  1. Austin Jackson, CF
  2. Will Rhymes, 2B
  3. Clete Thomas, RF
  4. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
  5. Brennan Boesch, LF
  6. Brandon Inge, 3B
  7. Alex Avila, DH
  8. Ramon Santiago, SS
  9. John Murrian, C
P: Phil Coke, Adam Wilk, Ryan Perry, Jose Valverde, Daniel Schlereth, Robbie Weinhardt.
CARDINALS
  1. Ryan Theriot, SS
  2. Colby Rasmus, CF
  3. Albert Pujols, 1B
  4. David Freese, 3B
  5. Lance Berkman, DH
  6. Allen Craig, RF
  7. Skip Schumaker, 2B
  8. Yadier Molina, C
  9. Jon Jay, LF
P: Chris Carpenter, Brian Tallet, John Gast, Joe Kelly, Lance Lynn, Raul Valdes

Dombrowski: Tigers were never in on Werth

The Tigers were rumored among the most serious suitors for Jayson Werth, who just signed a seven-year, $126 million deal with the Nationals. But team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said their interest didn’t go very far.

“The majority, and just short of all of that, was strictly paper talk,” Dombrowski said. “We never had any serious conversations on Jayson Werth. Not one. And the reality of it is, when we prioritized our players, we had Victor Martinez up there, that we pursued. And just preliminary conversations, very preliminary, where they talk in generalities, the dollar numbers and years were just not appealing to us.

“That’s why sometimes you move quickly in other directions to do things. For us, it just made more sense to move in the direction that we did.”

Victor Martinez t-shirt goes on sale Saturday at CoPa

Victor Martinez T-Shirt.jpgNormally, I don’t get into the merchandise end of things, but I know the jersey t-shirts are pretty popular, and it’s the holiday shopping season. And the Tigers did a pretty quick turnaround producing some shirseys for Victor Martinez.

They’ll go on sale Saturday morning as part of the Tigers’ one-day holiday sale from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Comerica Park main pro shop.

The sale was already scheduled for other items, including leather chairs from the clubhouse, catching gear, game-used bats and jerseys, helmets and more. Hall of Famer Al Kaline is also scheduled to sign copies of his book, Six: A Salute to Al Kaline, for an hour starting at 10:30 a.m.

Last week’s signing of Victor Martinez obviously adds something to the mix, including a new gift idea for the Tigers fan who has most everything. It’s new enough that it’s the first confirmation we’ve had that Martinez will get to keep number 41.

Part of the proceeds from the one-day sale will benefit the Detroit Tigers Foundation. The first 100 shoppers will be treated to a free gift. Free parking is available across the street at Lot 1.

Market for Martinez starts to emerge

Two days into free agents and their agents talking with other teams, the competition is stacking up for Victor Martinez. The Boston Globe cites a major league source saying that six teams have inquired on Martinez, including the Red Sox.

The Tigers, of course, aren’t commenting on their talks with agents on specific players. But Dave Dombrowski said Monday they’re moving forward in discussions and talking where they see a fit.

“We know what our thought process is,” Dombrowski said in general. “We know where we want to go. We’re moving in that direction. … For us, we’ve started the process, and that means that at times you’re already talking to people at this time.”

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