By Ashley Dunkak
COMERICA PARK (CBS DETROIT) – The last few weeks have been a little rough on those behind the plate for the Detroit Tigers, so designated hitter Victor Martinez could be returning to the catcher spot this weekend.
After a season of accruing bumps and bruises from numerous foul tips, starting catcher Alex Avila ended up on the seven-day disabled list for post-concussion symptoms. Not too much later, backup-turned-temporary-starter Brayan Pena took a foul tip to the toe that scratched him from the next day’s lineup.
When Avila got hurt, the Tigers recalled Bryan Holaday from Triple-A Toledo. He caught Wednesday’s game, but with both Avila and Pena dinged up – and Avila starting a rehab assignment Thursday – manager Jim Leyland announced that he was contemplating having Martinez catch a game when the Tigers travel to play the New York Mets this weekend.
Martinez, for one, is excited about the opportunity.
“That’s the position that I came up to the big leagues in,” he said. “Still enjoy it. Unfortunately I can’t do it like I used to do it every day, but it’s always going to be fun.”
“Just to be in charge of everything, I think that’s the coolest part about that position,” he added.
Martinez , an everyday catcher earlier in his career, still watches the game like he is planning how to attack the hitters. It is part of what makes him so effective at bat, and it is a perspective that keeps him ready in case the Tigers do need him to catch.
“You never rule it out,” Martinez said. “I’m just happy to be back in uniform, and if they need me out there, I’ll be more than happy to go out there and try to do my best.”
Pena, in his first year with the Tigers after four years with the Atlanta Braves and four years with the Detroit Tigers, said he and Martinez have developed a great relationship since meeting in spring training.
“Every time that I’ve got something that I really want to know, I really need to talk, I always go to him, I always go to Alex, but if Alex is catching, I talk to him about any situation,” Pena said. “He’s always there, and he’s been in the big leagues for a long time. He’s a guy who knows what he’s talking about.”