Victor Martinez ‘should be able to play’ for Tigers in 2018

Sep 23, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers designated hitter Victor Martinez (41) celebrates after hitting a home run in the third inning against the Kansas City Royals at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

All signs currently indicate that the Detroit Tigers are in a full-on rebuilding mode. Apparently, the effort to get younger will not impact the designated hitter spot. According to a report from the Detroit Free Press, switch-hitting Victor Martinez will don the Old English D in 2018.

Al Avila told the Free Press as much during an interview during the MLB general manager meetings in Florida recently.

“I fully expect him to come in and in good shape and ready to perform,” Avila said. “I don’t think there’s really going to be any setback with Victor at this point.”

Martinez was moved to the disabled list in September of 2017. It was his second time on the DL for the 2017 season. Shortly after the move to the DL in September, VMart underwent heart surgery for an irregular heartbeat.

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Although his recovery has been excellent and all of Detroit Sports Nation wishes him well, is returning V Mart to the line up really the best thing for the rebuilding Tigers? Detroit Tigers DSN editor A.J. Reilly contends that it’s time to part ways with Martinez. Citing several examples of poor leadership and entitled behavior last season, Reilly makes a compelling case for removing Martinez from any kind of mentorship role with Detroit.

Sadly, while Martinez has been a star in Detroit for years, his production has declined quite a bit. In 2017 he finished with a batting average of .255 only 10 home runs and 47 runs batted in. Perhaps a better move would be to put Miguel Cabrera at designated hitter and use that opportunity to develop a younger player at first base.

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Avila, for his part, seems determined to use Martinez if he is physically capable to play.

“There’s nothing that I have, no information that I have or that anybody from the medical field has told me he can’t play,” Avila said. “It’s completely the opposite, that he should be able to play.”