By Ashley Dunkak
COMERICA PARK (CBS DETROIT) – After the Detroit Tigers snapped a four-game losing skid Wednesday night, venerable veteran Victor Martinez shared that the team’s frustration over its recent struggles have been heightened by the negativity of some Tigers fans.
Detroit had a seven-game lead in the American League Central on July 24, but the Tigers now trail the Kansas City Royals by half a game. Martinez said the criticism of fans has been building for some time.
“It bothers me because people think that we’re playing Little League teams out there,” Martinez said.
“I really just think that people just think that we have to win the division by 10, 20 games,” he added later.
The Tigers have dominated their division in recent years, and the team just parted ways with two regulars – center fielder Austin Jackson and starting pitcher Drew Smyly – in a blockbuster trade perceived as the harbinger of an elusive World Series championship, so fans understandably have high expectations.
Martinez does not begrudge them their frustration, but he wants them to know they are not the only ones upset.
“They have all the right to be mad, but I’m just letting them know that it’s not that easy like they think,” Martinez said. “We’re not going to go out there and run-rule everything. I wish. I could have five, six RBIs every night, that would be perfect for me and the rest of my teammates. But you know, the other guys on the other side, they have family too. They’re in the big leagues for a reason, so let’s just don’t forget that part. And we’re trying. We’re giving our best out there man, and there’s nobody that gets more frustrated than we do. I don’t want to go out there and leave the bases loaded, strike out with men in scoring position. I don’t want that. I want to win. I’m desperate. I want to get the World Series ring in my hand I never had a chance to win, never.
“As a player it bothers you,” Martinez continued. “We’re really trying, man, and we don’t want to give it up. We don’t want to lose. It’s just the way it is. We’re in a really tough stretch, and this is when we need the fans the most because as soon as I go out, as soon as the team goes out and sees the atmosphere outside, the fans in the game, we feed off that. We feed off that, and that’s what we want to see. We want the fans to keep backing us up.”
Emotional and candid, Martinez was emphatic that – frustration aside – the Tigers still have plenty of confidence in themselves.
“We’re fine,” Martinez said. “We believe in what we’ve got, and you know what, we’re not going to keep playing like this for too long. We’ve got too good of a team. But like I said, every team struggles at some point. Look at it during the season – every team struggles. We wish, we wish that we could go 162-0.”