The Detroit Tigers long had their fingers crossed that Victor Martinez might be able to rejoin their lineup this summer in time for the stretch run. But after months of rehabbing his injured knee, Martinez and the Tigers training staff put to rest that possibility Friday.
Tigers trainer Kevin Rand said that Martinez will now focus on readying himself for the 2013 season.
“Victor’s worked extremely hard, obviously, to give himself a shot to play this year,” Rand said prior to Detroit’s game with Baltimore, according to the Oakland Press’ Matthew Mowery. “Unfortunately, the leg strength wasn’t to a degree that we feel comfortable that the risk is worth the return.”
Martinez, 33, tore the ACL in his left knee back in January — a development that prompted the Tigers to chase and sign first baseman Prince Fielder. Martinez underwent surgery to repair the ACL, then had a second procedure in April. An MRI in June cleared him to begin a leg-strengthening program, but he could not get healthy enough to jump back into Detroit’s lineup this season.
The Tigers do have Martinez under contract for two more years, meaning that the 2013 and ’14 lineups could center around a 3-4-5 order of Cabrera, Fielder and Martinez. That’s a scary though for the rest of the American League — and also reason enough to not rush Martinez back this season. While the Tigers’ offense has struggled off and on, especially in finding someone to man the spot behind Fielder in the order, getting Martinez back for a full 2013 season is preferable to having him at less than 100 percent for a couple weeks in 2012.
Detroit still has two weeks to try to acquire someone via trade. Any player added to the roster after Sept. 1 is not eligible for the playoff roster.