Victor Martinez re-aggravated a side injury in Friday's 6-3 loss to the Rays which kept him out of three games against the A's earlier in the week. (Elizabeth Conley / Detroit News)
Detroit — For the short term, Tigers manager Brad Ausmus might have to get used to having designated hitter Victor Martinez out of the lineup.
Martinez, who left Friday night’s game after re-aggravating his injured right side, is day to day and missed Saturday’s 7-2 loss to the Rays. Martinez said he sustained the injury on a single in the sixth inning; Rajai Davis replaced him in the lineup in the eighth.
After Friday’s game, Martinez said he wasn’t sure if he’d be back in time for the series finale on Sunday night.
“There’s really no change. There’s a little soreness in the same area as before so he won’t play today,” Ausmus said before Saturday’s game. “Long term, we don’t want it to be an issue. Players get injured; even the better hitters in your lineup are going to get injured at times.
“He actually swung the bat pretty well in the two days he was back and the last swing he felt on the single up the middle, he felt it again.”
Martinez missed the three games this week and could be out for a while longer if the injury doesn’t improve. Ausmus kept Martinez out on Wednesday as an extra precaution, but with the swings at the plate on Friday, the pain returned.
“If push comes to shove, we can probably keep him down if we wanted all the way to the All-Star break,” Ausmus said, “but right now we’re just going to see how he feels every day.”
Martinez, who went 1-for-2 on Friday, leads the Tigers with a .328 average and 21 home runs and is second with 55 RBI.
In his absence, J.D. Martinez moved into the cleanup spot and had a home run, his 11th of the season. Torii Hunter was the DH and went 2-for-4 with a pair of singles.
If his condition doesn’t improve, Victor Martinez could be in jeopardy of missing the All-Star Game on July 15, if he’s selected as a reserve next week.
“He should make the All-Star team; I hope he does make the All-Star team,” Ausmus said. “Obviously, if he’s not healthy, it’s a different story. He still deserves to be an All-Star, whether he’s physically able to play in the All-star Game or not.”
No break for Cabrera
As Martinez’s injury lingers, Ausmus is having a harder time getting a day off for Miguel Cabrera ahead of the All-Star break. It won’t be a break for Cabrera though, as he’s leading the American League balloting at first base and will be selected the starter.
“It makes it difficult. I wanted to give Miggy a day (off) here for about a week and it’s tough to do that with Victor’s injury,” Ausmus said. “It may be a situation where I just have to do it anyway.”
Cabrera has played all 84 games this season and after back-to-back 0-for-3 days on Friday and Saturday, Ausmus may be leaning more toward giving him a day out of the lineup, for maintenance, if nothing else.
He’s also had some days where he’s been the designated hitter, but a full day off could be in the cards.
“It’s more a mental break for Miggy; he’s grinding out every single day. He has had some DH days, which helps in getting him off his feet but sometimes you need a mental break,” Ausmus said. “It becomes more difficult to do that with Victor hurt but it may a situation where I just have to do that regardless.”
The difficulty is finding a day when the Tigers aren’t facing a left-handed pitcher — as they are Sunday in the Rays’ David Price — because with Martinez out, the next option to play first base is Don Kelly, a left-handed bat.
Tigers reliever Patrick McCoy suffered a right hamstring strain while trying to cover first base on an infield grounder by Ben Zobrist.
Ausmus said he wasn’t sure of what McCoy’s status would be but would discuss it with general manager Dave Dombrowski.
Rays at Tigers
First pitch: 8:07 Sunday, Comerica Park, Detroit
LHP David Price (7-7, 3.50), Rays: He hasn’t lived up to his usual numbers this season, but the next few starts could be auditions for a new team, as he’s rumored to be on the trading block.
RHP Rick Porcello (11-4, 3.12), Tigers: He’s looking to make a last good impression before the All-Star Game selections are made; he’ll likely be making his first appearance on July 15.