Chicago – Depending on what the doctors can figure out, Victor Martinez is going to be asking himself some very tough questions in the next few months.
Saturday night, following his final at-bat in the Detroit Tigers’ 6-3 win over the Chicago White Sox, Martinez’s heart started racing uncontrollably. It was the second recurrence of atrial fibrillation – an irregular heartbeat – in two months.
The Tigers placed him on the 10-day disabled list Sunday morning, and they aren’t putting any timetable on his return this season.
“You don’t mess around with the heart,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “We’re not talking about a sprained ankle or something minor. This is something you take very seriously because it could be life- threatening.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen going forward.”
Martinez, 38, spent Saturday night in a Chicago hospital. He was expected to be released Sunday and be driven back to Detroit.
“They were able to regulate his heartbeat and get it beating normally again,” Ausmus said. “As far as what happens after this to try and avoid another recurrence, I can’t give you an answer on that.”
Ausmus talked to Martinez before he was admitted Saturday night.
“He was obviously concerned, but he seemed more at ease than the previous time, maybe just from the mental aspect of knowing what it was,” he said. “That being said, Kevin Rand (Tigers head athletic trainer) told me the doctors need to find out why it’s happened again. They aren’t sure why.”
There was no definitive cause given for the first incident in June, either, but there is a history of heart failure in Martinez’s family. His father died of a heart attack at age 66.
“Atrial fibrillation is fairly common,” Ausmus said. “It’s not like it’s extremely rare. But still, when you are talking about the heart you need to find out, not only why it happened once, but why it’s continuing to happen.”
Martinez, who returned after 12 days after the first incident, has one more year and $18 million left on his contract with the Tigers. He said earlier in the season that his goal was to play out the contract and then retire after the 2018 season.
This recurring heart condition, on top of his declining production (.255, 10 home runs, 47 RBIs), could greatly impact his decision to return next season.
“The first question Vic should ask the doctors is, ‘Is this putting me at risk? Is there any long-term risk?’” Ausmus said. “That would be the first question I would ask. And, depending on the answer, make a decision accordingly.”
Outfielder JaCoby Jones was recalled from Triple-A Toledo to replace Martinez on the active roster.