Tigers designated hitter/backup catcher Victor Martinez may head to the DL after aggravating his groin during a second-inning at-bat Monday night in Seattle. The issue for the Tigers: Even though Martinez injured the groin while hitting, should he have been catching? Martinez had strained his groin on Saturday, but Jim Leyland said after the game that Martinez looked OK in pregame warm-ups. If he lands on the DL, he's out for two weeks and the Tigers lose a key hitter.
Three questions here:
1. The Tigers saved a roster spot by having Martinez serve as the backup to Alex Avila, but is this a smart move?
Answer: I say no. When Martinez is the DH, it leaves the team with no backup -- meaning Avila can never be pinch-hit or pinch-run for late in games, unless you want to insert the pitcher into the lineup. Considering Avila hit .182 against lefties in limited duty in 2010, you'd think Leyland would want some strategic options available.
2. Should Martinez ever catch?
Answer: I say no. Make him the regular DH, let him play every day and you've still created an asset for your team. American League DHs hit .252/.332/.426 last season and only four teams posted an OPS of .800. Martinez would be expected to outperform those numbers. Considering his ability to throw out runners (or lack thereof -- 14 percent in 2009, 21 percent in 2010), just let him hit.
3. Is Martinez's groin Detroit's biggest problem right now?
Answer: I say no. Leyland and GM Dave Dombrowski will have to make some tough decisions on two youngsters in the near future: Just how good are Austin Jackson (.164, 20 K's) and Rick Porcello (6.19 ERA, 25 hits in 16 innings)? Look, they'll keep playing these guys through May, but if they don't start producing, it may be time to look at some alternate options.