By Ashley Dunkak
CBS DETROIT – Originally sidelined by hamstring tightness last Monday, Detroit Tigers outfielder Torii Hunter will start the game on the bench again Tuesday night. In his place, yet again, is the hot-hitting J.D. Martinez.
Detroit Tigers manager Brad Ausmus told reporters at Tuesday’s game that he was simply giving Hunter another day to rest the hamstring, that Hunter would be available to pinch-hit that night and would be back in the lineup Wednesday.
Ausmus has said that if Martinez keeps up his pace, Detroit will have to find a way to keep him in the lineup. So far, Ausmus has not had to make a difficult choice; Martinez has mainly played right field in place of the injured Hunter.
If Ausmus needs to choose Martinez over Hunter when both are available, however, the manager evidently has Hunter’s blessing to choose Martinez.
“I will do whatever is best for the team,” Hunter said, according to USA Today, after the Tigers swept the Cleveland Indians last weekend. “We’re back to hitting the right groove right now, firing on all cylinders. If that means I have to split time in the field — if that’s in the best interest to help us win — then I’m fine with that. When you get to this point in your career, it becomes a lot easier figuring out what’s most important to you. I want to win.
“You can’t let your pride get the better of you,” Hunter added.
Martinez has a batting average of .444 and a slugging percentage of 1.000 since replacing Hunter in right field on June 16. Over 36 games total with the Tigers, Martinez is hitting .310 with seven home runs, 11 doubles and 27 runs batted in.