Detroit — The Tigers left the ballpark Thursday night thinking Victor Martinez was working through a virus and the expectation was he’d be back to work on Friday.
Turns out, the situation is more serious. Martinez was hospitalized and diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat. He was still in hospital Friday awaiting tests and possible treatment. It is possible he could spend Friday night in the hospital, as well.
“I talked to him,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “It’s scary. It’s not something at his age (38) you would generally consider an issue or something to worry about. But that said, he was making it through.
“There is a little bit of an unknown factor to it, which causes more anxiety than anything else.”
The Tigers placed Martinez on the 10-day disabled list and recalled John Hicks from Triple-A Toledo.
“We will know more tomorrow,” Ausmus said. “My feeling is it’s never happened to him before, but I don’t know that for a fact. I didn’t find out about it until he had to come out of the game (in the seventh inning Thursday).
“My first thought was dehydration. I am not sure the doctors know yet what caused it. Oftentimes the body corrects itself on its own.”
Martinez, who had two hits Thursday, was safe on an error in the seventh inning. But he was barely able to get himself to first base. He immediately walked off the field.
Ausmus said after the game that Martinez, “got cold sweats, dizzy and his heart was racing. It got to a point where he felt he couldn’t go.”
Asked about it after the game as he was hurriedly dressing, Martinez was almost inaudible. He just shook his head when asked if he knew what was causing those symptoms.
“Just hope he’s all right; hope everything goes well,” J.D. Martinez said. “Definitely a scary situation. You hate to hear stuff like that. I found out after the game and I was like, that’s kind of crazy.
“Our prayers are out to him, that’s for sure.”
Ausmus said he will rotate a few different players through Martinez’s designated hitter spot. Miguel Cabrera, who has been dealing with back and hip pain, served as DH Friday.
“Miggy told (trainer) Kevin Rand last night that his hip (flexor) was bothering him so he was the obvious choice today,” Ausmus said. “But Miggy being Miggy, he said, ‘Why don’t you DH Alex (Avila).’
“I said, ‘That’s a good idea and I might some time, but if I can get you off your feet rather than stand for nine innings, maybe we can knock this thing out.’”
Avila and J.D. Martinez are also candidates to DH.
“J.D. could use time off for his (right) foot,” Ausmus said. “And Avila, with the way he’s swinging the bat, I’d like to keep him in the lineup. And DH-ing him is a good way to do that without him having to catch all the time.”
J.D. Martinez moved up to the fourth spot in the batting order.
“I’m batting fourth?” he said before the game. “I didn’t even know. OK, cool.”
He said moving up one spot would change nothing in terms of his approach.
“It’s still baseball,” he said. “Just because I am hitting fourth or fifth, it doesn’t matter. Teams still know who I am. They are still going to pitch me the same way.
"But Vic is a big bat for us. He's our four-hole hitter, a switch-hitter who provides protection for Miggy. Definitely, there is a big piece that we are missing."