By: Will Burchfield
Tigers general manager Al Avila met with the media on Thursday for the final time this winter, reflecting on the offseason and looking ahead to upcoming campaign. Here are three takeaways.
1. Victor Martinez Played Through A Hernia In 2016
V-Mart’s production tapered off in the second half of last season and there’s a good reason why. According to Avila, the 38-year-old designated hitter was dealing with a hernia that caused him constant discomfort.
“I don’t know if you guys noticed that throughout the season he would always touch his stomach area — he had a hernia,” Avila said. “It’s not a sports-related hernia, it’s not a sports hernia that would keep you out, it’s more like a hernia that we might get and he was able to play through it.”
Avila confirmed Martinez had the injury fixed in the offseason.
“He had that taken care of in the offseason. Obviously, it was successful…So he’s expected to come back 100 percent healthy, and having him playing in the World Baseball Classic he’ll probably be DH-ing most of the time. So we expect for him to be back with us in a DH role, hitting left handed behind Miguel Cabrera. He’s a great hitter and he’ll continue to hit,” Avila said.
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2. No Limitations on Fulmer, Norris or Boyd
Michael Fulmer’s innings count was the subject of much debate last year, as he blew past his previous single-season high of 124.2 innings. The Tigers ultimately deciding to skip a couple of his starts to protect his arm, but Avila doesn’t foresee any restraints being placed on the A.L. Rookie of the Year in 2017. The same goes for Daniel Norris and Matt Boyd.
“I think with Fulmer, coming into Spring Training we want to be careful with him,” Avila said. “Last year he pitched a lot more innings than we would probably have preferred so we’ll make sure to care care of him and not overdo it early. But, in saying that, going into the season I don’t expect any limitations on any of them.”
3. The Tigers Always Intended To Part Ways With Cameron Maybin
Some fans were surprised to see the Tigers trade Cameron Maybin back in December, especially with the center fielder coming off a career year. But Avila explained that was the Tigers’ plan all along.
“With Cameron Maybin, it was very simple. When we acquired him we always felt this was going to be a one-year deal and we were going to move on with another center fielder. Obviously, the option at $9 million, we felt that with his injury history it was risky. Granted, he had a great year, probably the best year he’s had in his entire career, but if you look at his entire career those numbers are a one year (thing). So based on the injury history and the risk of the contract, we felt that we would pass on that at this point.”