After the Detroit Tigers’ season ended Saturday night, Victor Martinez was asked if it will be possible for him to catch next season.
“Oh yeah,” he said. “Definitely.”
That answer, and whether Tigers officials agree with it, could have an impact on the team’s offseason plans.
Martinez signed a four-year, $50 million contract with the Tigers last winter to be their primary designated hitter and backup catcher. But he was strictly a DH for almost the entire second half.
Martinez started just 26 games at catcher, down from 106 with Boston the year before. He didn’t catch at all after Aug. 4 because of a sprained left knee.
Martinez said Saturday that the injury left him unable to go down into a crouch. If that doesn’t change over the offseason, the Tigers will have little choice but to invest in a backup catcher.
Starter Alex Avila led the American League with 133 games caught, and the heavy workload was probably one reason he developed patellar tendinitis in his left knee. The knee became bad enough that Avila received a cortisone injection late in the season.
Avila started the All-Star Game for the American League but batted .073 during the playoffs, which Detroit manager Jim Leyland attributed to “some of the wear and tear” from playing too much.
At one point during the second half, Avila started 18 games in a row, took one game off, and then continued on another streak of 15 straight.
“We really beat him up a little bit more than I would have liked to, but he’s as tough as they come,” Leyland said during the ALCS.
Omir Santos was on the Detroit roster as a third catcher at times during the year, but he made only five starts during the second half.
“(Alex) is the everyday catcher,” Martinez said. “I’m going to catch whenever he needs a day off — that’s my mentality. I knew that when I decided to come here. I know he was going to be the everyday catcher. ... I want to be there to help him out.”
-- Jon Paul Morosi