Opening Day is right around the corner, and the Detroit Tigers will be without their no. 5 hitter and right fielder, J.D. Martinez to start the season. J.D. suffered a sprain of his Lisfranc ligament in his right foot, making a running catch, and is supposed to be sidelined for 3-4 weeks, per Brad Ausmus. That puts J.D. out of action for a month, to start the season, but it could be longer than that.
The Lisfranc injury is a midfoot sprain, that occurs if a bone in the middle of the foot has been broken, or ligaments supporting the bone have been torn. According to OrthoInfo, “A Lisfranc injury is often mistaken for a simple sprain, especially if the injury is a result of a straightforward twist and fall. However, injury to the Lisfranc joint is not a simple sprain that should be simply ‘walked off.’ It is a severe injury that may take many months to heal and may require surgery to treat.”
Now, I’m not trying to go doomsday on all of us Tigers fans, just simply throwing out a word of caution: it may be longer than a month until we see J.D.; hell, it could be something he is dealing with all season long.
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell suffered a similar injury back in 2013, and the reports on him were that he would miss “until late September” — he had injured his foot in the first preseason game. In Bell’s case, and in J.D.’s, “[i]t’s critical to the long-term foot health of any player who suffers this type of injury that complete healing occurs prior to a return to play, hence the slow progression, even when the player says he feels fine.”
So what this means for us Tigers fans is be patient. J.D. Martinez is integral to our success this year, and having his bat in the lineup is something we cannot do without, of that there is no question. However, this Lisfranc injury is a buggy little bastard, and if not healed properly we will be without him longer than first anticipated.
So what do the Tigers do in the meantime?
Well, there are a couple of options. First things first, they need to declare JaCoby Jones their everyday centerfielder, a point we made last week. That competition should have been over a week ago. Secondly, they then need to go to battle with Tyler Collins or Steven Moya in right field. Both, admittedly are a downgrade from Martinez, both of them as well are out of minor league options, so here’s their chance to prove they belong with the club even after Martinez is fully recovered. And lastly, the Tigers must, must, must stay patient with their All-Star right fielder. If they want to have any chance of competing and playing meaningful baseball into August and September, J.D. Martinez will be imperative.
So, Tigers fans, while J.D.’s injury sucks, and this is no way to begin a season, stay patient. This injury could be worse (or at least more nagging) than it first appeared. You’ve been warned.