By: Will Burchfield
Victor Martinez doesn’t intend to let a heart scare dictate the length of his career.
“I know how long I’m gonna play. I’ve been through a lot of stuff during my career. Unless that day comes and I can’t really play, but I don’t really think about that,” he said. “I know until when I’m gonna play.”
Asked if that’s at least through the end of his contract, V-Mart nodded in confirmation. He is owed $18 million per year through the 2018 season.
“If I can’t play before that, it’s all in god’s hands,” he said. “Not mine.”
Martinez was speaking to the media on Tuesday for the first time since being removed from the Tigers game on June 15 with an elevated heart rate, dizziness and cold sweats. He was later hospitalized and diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat.
He’s set to return from the 10-day disabled list on Wednesday.
“It was definitely scary. But thank god everything’s good and I’ll be ready to play tomorrow,” he said.
Martinez is hauntingly familiar with heart problems. His father suffered three heart attacks, the last of which took his life at the age of 66. This heightened V-Mart’s anxiety during his own episode earlier this month; he had never experienced anything like it in his life.
“It’s a big scare, especially when my dad died with 3 heart attacks. It makes you think a little bit,” said Martinez.
He said it was a major relief when the doctors told him he would be okay. They were unable to identify a cause, according to Martinez, but theorized it was related to dehydration.
“They told me a lot of people get it, too. The good thing is, they got my heart back in normal rhythm. Feels good,” he said.
Asked if he thought his career was in jeopardy when he was lifted from the game, his heart racing and his vision blurred, Martinez shook his head.
“No. I can’t think about that, I’m not a doctor,” he said.
But the incident has altered his way of thinking.
“Makes you appreciate your life more. You have to enjoy life every day, day by day, you just never know. I always think that way, just trying to live my life, make the most out of it,” he said.
Martinez was admitted to Henry Ford Hospital the night of June 15 and discharged the next day. He underwent exams – “they all came out good,” he said – received a heart monitor, and was prescribed medication.
“The people at Henry Ford, they were great. Thank them a lot,” Martinez said.
He has completed his medication and is hoping to shed the heart monitor on Wednesday. He sounded cautiously optimistic that the episode is behind him.
“We’ll see, hopefully it doesn’t come back,” he said.
The Tigers went 2-8 in V-Mart’s absence. They are nine games under .500 (33-42) and 6.5 games out of a playoff spot.
“It’s not fun when you have to sit on the couch, watching your teammates busting their butts trying to win a ballgame and you can’t do nothing about it,” said Martinez.
“Definitely excited every time you get back to play,” he added. “Just try to do my job and find a way to win a ballgame.”
V-Mart’s production has waned in his age-38 season. He’s hitting .216 with five home runs and a paltry .714 OPS.
If his body betrays him sooner than he’d like – either due to his heart or otherwise – he’ll likely take comfort in an age-old truth.
“At the end,” he said, “this is just a game.”