Clearwater, Fla. — Barring any other setback, designated hitter Victor Martinez is on track to start the season on time – even though his role in the first two regular season games in Miami will be as a pinch hitter.
Manager Brad Ausmus laid out the timetable for Martinez Saturday morning:
“Victor will get at-bats in a minor-league game today, tomorrow and again on Monday,” he said. “If all goes well through those three games, he will probably be back with the big-league club on Tuesday.”
Martinez had three at-bats on Saturday. He walked and hit a home run. He also grounded into a double play.
“I told him five swings, max,” Ausmus said. “He took three. I guess he will take four Sunday and five on Monday.”
Ausmus also said J.D. Martinez hit two home runs in the minor league game and James McCann also homered.
Martinez, fighting through a mild left hamstring strain, has been running the last few days.
“I watched him (on Friday) and he looked fine,” Ausmus said. “He said he felt absolutely nothing. He hasn’t felt anything for about five days. We just held him off to be sure.”
Ausmus had said previously if Martinez could get a week’s worth of at-bats before Opening Day, he’d be good to go. He on target to get that done.
The Tigers had hoped Martinez would be able to play first base in interleague games, moving Miguel Cabrera to third. That’s obviously not going to be the case now. Thus, Martinez will be available to pinch hit in those two games against the Marlins.
Also in a minor league game Saturday, right-hander Anibal Sanchez threw 71 pitches (49 strikes) in 6⅓ innings. He allowed three hits and a run, while striking out eight.
Sanchez was slowed this spring by both a virus and triceps inflammation, but he is on track to start the second game of the season in Miami. He will make one more spring start and try to get his pitch count up to 90.
“If he can throw 90 pitches then he is capable of starting a regular season game,” Ausmus said.