By Will Burchfield
Brad Ausmus watched Victor Martinez run toward first and knew something was wrong.
“As he got closer and closer he seemed to slouch over more and he was slowing down. My first concern was the knee, obviously,” Ausmus said.
The knee was the least of Martinez’s worries.
It was his heart. It was beating too fast. He was dizzy and had cold sweats too.
Ausmus looked toward first base coach Omar Vizquel. When a player needs the trainer, Vizquel will signal toward the dugout.
“He signaled right away,” Ausmus said.
The Tigers promptly removed Martinez from the game and sent him to the hospital. He spent the night there. The doctors diagnosed him with an irregular heartbeat.
On Friday the 38-year-old was placed on the 10-day disabled list. He may stay in the hospital Friday night for further testing and treatment.
Ausmus spoke with Martinez this afternoon. He said his spirits were about as good as they could be given the circumstances.
“It’s a little bit scary, it’s not something that at his age you generally consider an issue or worry about. That being said, he’s making it through. I think there’s a little bit of an unknown factor, which is causing more anxiety than anything else,” Ausmus said.
Here’s what is known.
V-Mart’s condition is not career-threatening.
“No, no, no. That’s not a worry,” Ausmus said.
The Tigers have called up John Hicks from Triple-A Toledo.
Ausmus will bump J.D. Martinez into the cleanup spot and everyone behind him will be moved up accordingly.
Outside of that, the situation isn’t very clear.
“I’m not sure the doctors even really know what caused it,” said Ausmus. “Often times the body corrects itself on its own, sometimes it doesn’t. We should know more tomorrow.”
As far as Ausmus knows, Martinez hasn’t dealt with heart issues in the past.
“Not that I know of, but I don’t know his complete medical history either. My feeling is this has never happened before,” Ausmus said.
Martinez first notified team trainer Kevin Rand that he wasn’t feeling well in the third inning, according to Ausmus. But the manager wasn’t aware of the situation until it reached its crisis point.
“I didn’t find out about it really until he came out of the game because he was kind of playing through it,” said Ausmus. “First thought was that maybe it was dehydration.”
In the Tigers clubhouse on Friday afternoon players were searching for answers, asking one another for updates, eager for the latest information. No one seemed totally sure of what was happening or what to expect.
Nicholas Castellanos and J.D. Martinez discussed the situation at their neighboring lockers. Miguel Cabrera said he hadn’t yet talked to V-Mart, but agreed the whole thing was “crazy.”
It was an atmosphere of curiosity more than concern.
Said Ausmus, “I’m not sure that everyone knows at this point, a handful of players certainly know. I’d imagine it’s a little bit of a wakeup call just because at that age you don’t expect something like this.”
In V-Mart’s absence, Ausmus plans to use a number of guys at the D.H. spot, all of whom could use some time off their feet. He mentioned Cabrera, J.D. and Alex Avila in particular.
“We got a number of options, maybe depending on the opposing pitcher, maybe it’s some type of rotation,” he said.
Cabrera is banged up, his latest injury a hip flexor, J.D. is still recovering from the foot strain he suffered in spring training and Ausmus would like to limit the number of games that Avila has to catch.