Tigers to look at options as Martinez struggles

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Detroit — For the first time this season, as designated hitter Victor Martinez continues to struggle hitting from the left side on his surgically-repaired left knee, manager Brad Ausmus hinted that something might need to be done.

"We have to look at things," Ausmus said after the Tigers lost to the lowly Brewers 3-2 Monday. "I think we have to at least talk about other options. But we will do that privately."

After the game, owner Mike Ilitch was in Ausmus' office, as was president and vice president Dave Dombrowski. Earlier, Ausmus said a stint on the disabled list wasn't being considered for Martinez.

Things might have changed after Monday.

After having just one at-bat with three days completely off since last Thursday, Martinez still appeared unable to generate bat speed and drive his bat through the zone from the left side of the plate.

He went 0-for-4 and left two runners in scoring position. He is 3 for 24 since May 7 from the left side of the plate.

"Victor is extremely passionate about playing and winning," Ausmus said. "He seemed to be turning the corner on the last road trip through Kansas City and Chicago, but when we got home he didn't look as good.

"We gave him three days in St. Louis hoping that would help, and today it looked like he aggravated it again running."

Down 3-2 in the eighth, Ian Kinsler singled and Miguel Cabrera walked to start the inning. Martinez hit a slow roller to second and was doubled up.

The play at first was bang-bang. He was ruled out and video replay was inconclusive. The call stood and he seemed to jam the knee hitting first base.

"A little pinch," Martinez said. "I was trying to touch the base with the right one."

Ausmus had Yoenis Cespedes available to pinch hit in that situation.

"It was never a consideration," said Ausmus, who did use Cespedes in the ninth to hit for James McCann. He hit into a double play.

Asked why Cespedes wasn't a consideration in the eighth, Ausmus said pointedly, "Because part of baseball is understanding humans and that's a big part of it. We need Victor Martinez for the entire season."

The players in the clubhouse afterward shared that sentiment.

"I want him in the game," Kinsler said. "Everyone in this clubhouse wants him in the game. He is a game-changer regardless of how he's playing. He changes the approach of the other team and what they want to do with the pitcher, how they want to approach the inning.

"He's a great hitter and he's not going to be this way forever. We keep putting him in the lineup and you expect it to change. He knows that and we know that. It's just a matter of time."

Putting him on the disabled list, moving him down in the order, playing him only against left-handed pitchers — all of these things have been and likely will be discussed.

"I always say I'm willing to do whatever is best for the team," Martinez said.

Is he opposed to going on the DL?

"That's the thing, though. I don't think it was like this the year I came back in 2013 after missing the whole 2012," he said. "It took a lot of time. It took pretty much almost through the All-Star break. I don't know.

"The only thing I can control is just keep battling and keep working hard and see what happens."