Martinez stays home as Tigers get washed out
Dunedin, Fla. — Victor Martinez got to the clubhouse in Lakeland at his usual 5:30 a.m. Friday, did his physical therapy session and was ready to travel to Dunedin with the rest of the team.
He was scheduled to be the designated hitter against the Blue Jays.
That was until manager Brad Ausmus checked the weather.
"A 100 percent chance of rain during that game," Ausmus said.
There was no way the Tigers were going to let Martinez play on a wet field 6.5 weeks after meniscus surgery. That was not going to happen.
"Now, that said, it probably won't rain at all," Ausmus said. "But it's not worth risking it. If he's not here, you can't risk it."
Oh, it rained. A little at first, but by the fifth inning it was coming down in sheets. The game was called after five with the Blue Jays up 4-1.
"Quite frankly, I thought Victor needed a day off anyway," Ausmus said. "The rain was a convenient excuse."
Martinez and Miguel Cabrera are scheduled to be in the lineup together today against the Cardinals in Lakeland.
Ausmus won't say for sure, but the Tigers could be showcasing their Opening Day batting order against Twins right-hander Phil Hughes — Anthony Gose, Ian Kinsler, Cabrera, Martinez, J.D. Martinez, YoenisCespedes, Alex Avila, Nick Castellanos and Jose Iglesias.
"It is not locked in stone," Ausmus said.
The reason for Avila hitting ahead of Castellanos, Ausmus said, was to break up the right-handed batters — J.D. Martinez, Cespedes and Castellanos. He didn't really give a reason for hitting J.D. Martinez ahead of Cespedes, except to say base running wasn't much of a factor.
"Miggy and Victor don't move fast," Ausmus said. "Cespedes is faster than J.D. but J.D. is not slow. It's not a huge factor. Speed is important for the guys hitting ahead of Miggy and not that big of an issue after Victor."
Ausmus said he expects to have the roster cut to 25 by next Friday. And the last decision that will be made, he said, was which two left-handed relievers will be kept.
"We have had a lot of discussion among the staff and there is not a consensus," he said. "Different people on the staff like different lefties for different reasons."
Tom Gorzelanny, Blaine Hardy, Kyle Ryan and Ian Krol are fighting for two spots. There is an outside shot Ausmus will keep three lefties, but that would depend largely on whether right-hander Bruce Rondon starts the season in Triple A or Detroit.
Ryan pitched an 1.1 innings Friday and gave up a long home run to Jose Bautista.
"He just needs to keep the ball down," pitching coach Jeff Jones said. "He's had some outings where he was tremendous and he's had some where he's gotten the ball up. When he gets it up, he gets hit."
Krol was scheduled to pitch Friday but was a victim of the rain. Ausmus said he will pitch today.
Around the horn
Rondon was not throwing as hard as he usually does Friday. He was in the mid-90s and not the high-90s. But that's not what concerned Ausmus.
Rondon got flustered by what he thought was a missed call on what would have been a strike out against Dalton Pompey. He became more agitated when Pompey singled. Justin Smoak followed with a two-run homer.
"He got a little frustrated with a call and the frustration cost him," Ausmus said.
... Avila made his debut at first base and handled all three chances flawlessly. He made a nice scoop on a long throw from shortstop Andrew Romine.