Victor's Path to Recovery
Hearing about a player getting injured during practice or anywhere off-the-field is a completely different animal. It feels so frustrating and confusing as a fan. One minute he was there, the next he’s gone. At least when it’s mid-game you have a little time to start preparing yourself for what life’s about to be like post-injury. But for Victor Martinez, that wasn’t the case.
In the early months of 2012, the news that Victor Martinez tore the ACL in his left knee during some pre-season workouts left a cloud of sadness over the Detroit Tigers community. Coming off of an extremely productive year that ended in the hands of an extremely talented Texas Rangers team in the ALCS, expectations were high in Detroit for a potential World Series run.
Clearly Martinez wasn’t the most irreplaceable element on the team. Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander were the stars. But Martinez provided a certain element in 2011 that the Tigers sorely missed during their playoff run in 2012 – a veteran contact hitter and leader that rarely let pitchers get comfortable on the mound.
A career .303 hitter, Martinez is one of the toughest players in the league to strike out. He protects the plate extremely well and uses all fields with regularity. Though he undoubtedly has 20+ home run potential (he’s hit 20 or more 4 times in his career), Martinez played within the fences in his first season with the Tigers, hitting only 12 homers but tying a career high with 40 doubles and setting a new career high in batting average at .330.
And after a year on the sidelines, Martinez has finally made his return to the diamond this spring training. Through 5 games, Martinez is a modest 5-13. In his first game back, he went hitless, but by game three, Tigers fans were seeing the Martinez we missed so sorely during last year’s playoff run. In a 5-5 tie with the Phillies this past Sunday, Martinez went 3-3 with a Home Run and 2 RBIs.
Sure it’s only one game and it’s only spring training, but when a man’s been out an entire year, it’s extremely inspiring to see a big outing like that come so early in the pre-season.
As of now, the top of the Tigers lineup is looking like:
1. Austin Jackson
2. Torii Hunter
3. Miguel Cabrera
4. Prince Fielder
5. Victor Martinez
Before the Torii Hunter signing, I was thinking Martinez was perfect for that number two spot that killed the Tigers all year long. Hunter has done well in the past out of the 2-spot and he definitely fills the mold the Tigers need behind Jackson as a smart, veteran hitter with some power to boot, but I wouldn’t be too surprised if Martinez finds his way up there by the end of the season.
All in all, glad to have you back, Victor.