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.