J.D. Martinez out 3-4 weeks; Tigers explore OF options

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Lakeland, Fla. – J.D. Martinez will start the season on the disabled list, manager Brad Ausmus confirmed after the Tigers’ 3-2 exhibition win over the Braves Friday.

Martinez spent the day in Charlotte, N.C., having his right foot tested and examined by Dr. Robert Anderson.

“J.D. is going to be out three to four weeks, from today,” Ausmus said. “He has a mid-foot sprain of the Lisfranc ligament.”

Martinez will be in a cast for seven to 10 days and then re-evaluated.

The three-to-four-week timeframe -- before he can resume game activity -- could be adjusted after the post-cast evaluation. By the calendar, if it went four weeks, he could resume baseball activity by the last week of April. But then he would need time in extended spring training to get back in game condition.

It could be sometime in early May that Martinez returns to the lineup.

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“It’s longer that I thought,” Ausmus said. “No question our lineup is better with J.D. Martinez’s bat in it. But we will deal with it. When you think about it, it’s three to four weeks from today and 10 days of that are while we’re still in spring training.

“So if it goes four weeks, that’s only two and a half, three weeks of missed time in season.”

It certainly could have been worse. Had the Lisfranc ligament ruptured or tore, it would have required surgery and Martinez would have missed the entire season.

“It’s not surgical, it just has to heal,” Ausmus said.

The question now becomes, how to address the gaping hole in right field?

“Our options are all the outfielders we’ve got in camp,” Ausmus said.

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The injury to Martinez could change the conversation regarding rookie JaCoby Jones. Ausmus said of all the other outfielders (excluding left-fielder Justin Upton), Jones was the only one who wouldn’t be moved out of center field.

The Tigers didn’t want to keep Jones on the 25-man roster if he was just going to be a platoon player, playing only against left-handed pitchers. They worried, rightly, that he wouldn’t get enough at-bats and it could stunt his development.

But Mikie Mahtook, Tyler Collins, Alex Presley, Juan Perez, Steven Moya and Anthony Gose have all played some corner outfield this spring.

With right field open, Mahtook and Collins could move over to right and Jones, who has outperformed everybody this spring, could be the everyday center fielder to start the year.

That, of course, is not set in stone.

Moya, who is out of minor league options, filled in for Martinez for a long stretch last year, but struggled offensive and defensively after a hot start.

“We’re trying to put together the best personnel in the outfield to help us win games until J.D. returns,” Ausmus said.

Asked if the Tigers might look outside the organization for a fill-in, Ausmus said, “I am sure Al (Avila, general manager) will be manning the phones, but we’re not looking at six months or half a season.”

Twitter @cmccosky