DETROIT – How long will Victor Martinez be out this time?
Martinez, who re-aggravated his sore right side swinging on a single he pulled to right field in the sixth inning, said he will miss the final two games this weekend with the Tampa Bay Rays.
Then, after the team is off Monday, Martinez said he hopes to play Tuesday when the Los Angeles Dodgers visit.
“The way I feel right now, I don’t see it happening,” Martinez said of playing against the Tampa Bay Rays after Friday night’s 6-3 loss.
When asked if he was concerned about re-injuring the area that kept him out of three games earlier this week after playing only two games once returning, Martinez said, “This is nothing major. I need time to get back.”
Detroit manager Brad Ausmus noted Martinez’s status as “day-to-day” after sitting out Saturday, and added, “We’ll have to be a little more cautious.”
When Rajai Davis pinch-hit for designated hitter Martinez with two out in the eighth inning, something became painfully obvious. Martinez had to be hurt again.
Martinez sat out all three games with the Oakland A’s, and then blasted a homer in his first at-bat upon coming back Thursday. He was 3-for-5 in the two games since returning, and also had one walk and got hit by a pitch in his lower right leg Friday night in the fourth inning.
Martinez said his leg was fine, and was not concerned about that becoming a second injury to deal with. It missed the knee, which could have caused problems. Though, he was the first of three batters hit by pitches in a game that ended up setting off a different kind of fireworks on the Fourth of July.
Detroit starter Drew Smyly hit Evan Longoria in the top of the sixth, two innings after Longoria homered against him. Home plate umpire Quinn Wolcott warned both teams after Rays starter Alex Cobb hit Ian Kinsler in the bottom of the sixth.
Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon became upset at that point, and umpire crew chief Greg Gibson ejected Maddon.
"We hit Victor, yes,” Maddon said. “Totally accident, (Cobb) pulls a fastball. Then they intentionally hit Longo. We’re not going to reciprocate right there. We’re not, it’s over. We’re good. But then this whole other thing ensues."
Ausmus said, “I don’t think anybody tried to hit anybody in this game.”
Smyly said he was not throwing at Longoria.
Tigers starter Rick Porcello was suspended for six games and fined for hitting Rays switch-hitter Ben Zobrist last year on June 30, one day after Miguel Cabrera thought Rays closer Fernando Rodney tried to throw at him with a high pitch that just missed.
“In this room,” said Martinez, “nobody thinks we have bad blood with the Rays…I don’t think Cobb hit me.”
Martinez, who is hitting .328 with 21 homers and 55 RBIs, was batting left-handed when he hit the single that caused the pain. He had been able to hit with less restriction as a right-handed batter. But now he said that is no longer the case. Martinez said he injured the right side in his lower back on a swing Sunday at Houston.
“One swing,” he said, “that’s all it takes.”
Martinez said he had the same injury during the 2011 playoffs in his first season in Detroit.
He’s a contender for an All-Star Game roster spot, and the teams will be announced Sunday night. Martinez could be named and later replaced if unable to perform. He’s hoping to play in five games next week prior to the four-day break, and had even entertained competing in the Home Run Derby.
However, getting healthy for the second half of the season is the top priority now.
“I’m sore,” Martinez said. “So, we just have to wait.”