Victor Martinez starting at catcher for first time in more than two years

By Mike Axisa | Baseball Writer

It has been more than two years since Victor Martinez last donned the tools if ignorance.
It has been more than two years since Victor Martinez last donned the tools if ignorance. (USATSI)

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For the first time in 749 days, Victor Martinez is starting a game behind the plate at catcher. The Tigers don't want to lose his bat as they open a weekend series on the road against the Mets in Citi Field, an NL park with no DH.

"I'm contemplating -- contemplating only -- catching him a game in New York," said manager Jim Leyland to Chris Iott of mLive.com earlier this week.

Martinez, 34, last caught a game on August 4, 2011. He signed a four-year contract with Detroit prior to 2011, but caught just 26 games for the Tigers that year as Alex Avila emerged. Martinez has served as the team's regular DH with a handful of starts at first base this season.

Although his overall season line sits at a modest .285/.340/.404 (101 OPS+) with 10 homers in 126 games, Martinez has hit .356/.410/.470 (150 OPS+) in 33 games since the All-Star break. It's easy to understand why Leyland didn't want to take his bat out of the lineup as the Tigers work towards clinching a playoff spot and the AL Central title.

Martinez missed the entire 2012 season with a torn ACL. From 2009-11, he threw out a well-below-average 19.3-percent of base-stealers. The Mets are a middle of the pack stolen base team with 80 steals in 109 attempts (73.4-percent).

Avila is currently on the 7-day DL concussion DL. Brayan Pena and Bryan Holaday have been handling catching duties during his absence.

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