DETROIT — The Tigers are hoping to prevent Victor Martinez’s injury from turning into a chronic one.
Martinez, who left Friday’s game early, was not in the lineup Saturday. J.D. Martinez was batting fourth behind Miguel Cabrera.
Martinez missed the three-game series with the Oakland A’s with soreness in his back near the rib cage. It’s something that affects him more when batting left-handed than right-handed.
Martinez continued to take batting practice and tried to talk his way into the lineup but Tigers manager Brad Ausmus and head athletic trainer Kevin Rand convinced him it was better for him to try to heal than play.
In his first at-bat Thursday in the Tampa Bay series, Martinez hit a home run.
In Friday’s game, Martinez had an RBI single in the sixth inning, but Rajai Davis replaced him in the eighth as the soreness persisted.
"He actually swung the bat pretty well the two games he was back, but the last swing he took on the single up the middle, he felt it again," Ausmus said. "He’ll be down. If push comes to shove, we could probably keep him down all the way through the All-Star break. But right now, we’re just going to see how he feels every day."
Although Baltimore’s Nelson Cruz led the designated hitters in All-Star voting, there’s a decent chance Martinez could still make the team.
"He should make the All-Star team," Ausmus said. "I hope he does make the All-Star team. Obviously, if he’s not healthy, it’s a different story. He still deserves to be an All-Star, whether he’s physically able to play in the All-Star Game, or not."
Martinez leads the Tigers with a .328 batting average and 20 home runs and his 55 RBI are second to Cabrera’s 67.
HARD TO SIT CABRERA
Cabrera is not asking for a day off but Ausmus wants to get him one before the All-Star break.
However, that is complicated by Martinez’s current injury.
"It’s more a mental break for Miggy," Ausmus said. "He’s grinding out every single day. He has had some DH days, which helps getting him off his feet, but sometimes you just need a mental break. It becomes more difficult to do that with Victor hurt, but I may just have to do that regardless."
Cabrera is not likely to get any rest during the All-Star break as he was leading all AL first basemen in voting and is poised to make his ninth All-Star Game, which is July 15 in Minnesota.
Martinez is usually the one who plays first if Cabrera is the DH or sits, so that’s the other part of it, in addition to not wanting your two best offensive players out in the same game.
"If you’ve got a left-handed pitcher on the mound for the other team, you can’t really put Donnie (Kelly) at first," Ausmus said. "Gotta have a right-handed bat in the lineup. It becomes tough."
The Los Angeles Dodgers are starting lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu on Tuesday night.
KROL ON REHAB ASSIGNMENT
Left-handed reliever Ian Krol made his first rehabilitation appearance Friday night for the West Michigan (Single-A) Whitecaps.
Krol threw a scoreless inning with one strikeout.
Krol has been out since June 21 with left shoulder inflammation.
NO KERSHAW FOR TIGERS
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly has said that star Clayton Kershaw will pitch Thursday against the San Diego Padres, meaning he’ll miss the two-game series in Detroit.
"I wish him well," Ausmus said. "I’m not necessarily concerned about Clayton Kershaw, but I’m not unhappy that he’s starting on Thursday."
Ausmus finished his career with the Dodgers and caught Kershaw before he won the Cy Young and earned the big contract.
"Turned 21, my first spring training with them in ’09," Ausmus said of Kershaw. "First regular-season game, he would’ve been 21 when I caught."
Ausmus said he knew Kershaw was good but didn’t know just how good he would become.
"Really, his whole trajectory changed when he started throwing the slider," Ausmus said. "I think he was going to be good, but I think the slider is what has really made him great. The amazing thing about the slider is that he threw it once in the bullpen, and took it into his next start. He’s really kind of taken off since the slider.
"He’s always had the velocity, always had the big curveball, was the one game-changer for him, I think."
Kershaw, 26, is 10-2 with a 1.85 ERA and 0.87 WHIP. He has not allowed an earned run in his last four starts, 36 innings total dating back to June 13 against Arizona.
BASEBALL DOES NOT LIKE JENNY’S NUMBER
Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon made out his "867-5309/Jenny" lineup on Thursday and played the Tommy Tutone song in the clubhouse before the game.
The result was an 8-1 loss.
It was the third time a manager has tried that particular lineup and the third time it hasn’t worked.
On Sept. 19, 1987, Cleveland Indians manager Doc Edwards tried it when his team visited the Minnesota Twins, resulting in a 3-1 loss.
On May 11, 1980, Toronto Blue Jays manager Bobby Mattick’s team lost at Oakland, 12-1.