Detroit — If you watched Victor Martinez hit regularly last season, you often saw him grimace in pain after he swung, particularly when he swung and missed. It was assumed that the wince was related to the lingering effects of his multiple knee surgeries.
Turns out, there was another malady he was dealing with.
“He had a small hernia,” Tigers general manager Al Avila revealed Thursday during the annual Detroit Sports Broadcasters Association luncheon at Sinbad’s Restaurant.
The injury was in the abdominal area, but Avila was quick to point out that it wasn’t a sports hernia. There was no hole in the abdominal wall.
“It was more like something you or I would get,” Avila said. “And obviously, he was able to play through it.”
Martinez, who finished with 27 home runs and 86 RBIs last season, had surgery to repair the issue in October. He has been working out and plans to be the DH for Team Venezuela in the WBC.
“Yeah, he’s been working toward being ready for the WBC,” Avila said. “So, he will actually be ready a little earlier for us. We expect him to come back 100 percent healthy and be that left-handed power hitter behind Miguel Cabrera in our lineup.”
Martinez, 38, has not had a full, completely healthy season since 2014. Last season, though he hit .289, he struck a career-high 90 times.
Oddly, his overall production hitting left-handed has fallen off dramatically the last two years. After hitting .323 from the left side in 2014 (his career average hitting left-handed is .298), he hit .219 against right-handed pitching in 2015 and .287 against it last season (though he did hit 20 of his home runs left-handed).
“I don’t care how old he is, that SOB can hit; simple as that,” manager Brad Ausmus said during TigerFest last week. “He knows what he’s doing at the plate and he’s our one legitimate power threat from the left side. We need him.”