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 Tigers opt to place V-Mart on disabled list

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PostSubject: Tigers opt to place V-Mart on disabled list   Tue Apr 19, 2011 4:52 pm

Tigers opt to place V-Mart on disabled list
Santos' contract purchased from Triple-A Toledo
By Jason Beck / MLB.com | 04/19/11 6:44 PM ET

SEATTLE -- Miguel Cabrera's protection in the Tigers lineup is going to be out for a while. The team put Victor Martinez on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday after he aggravated his right groin strain Monday night against the Mariners.

From a roster standpoint, the Tigers will replace Martinez with veteran catcher Omir Santos, whose contract they purchased from Triple-A Toledo. He'll serve as Alex Avila's backup behind the plate while Martinez is out. Detroit's lineup, however, is going to take a little more juggling.

Martinez had shown strong signs in recent days of climbing out of a slow start. His second-inning single Monday was his fifth hit in 10 at-bats since Saturday, and it raised his average to .250 to go with two home runs and nine RBIs. Earlier in the at-bat, though, he had aggravated his groin strain moving on a pitch he took from Mariners starter Jason Vargas.

Martinez jogged gingerly to first, then advanced slowly to second on Brennan Boesch's single. That was enough for manager Jim Leyland to lift him for pinch-runner Casper Wells.

After the game, Martinez hoped he might be able to return in a few days. But Leyland, who had taken a risk by putting him back in the lineup so soon after he originally strained his groin Saturday, sounded like he was plotting a move.

"I'm sure we're going to have to do something," Leyland said.

The move was needed purely from a catching standpoint. The Tigers gained roster flexibility by having Martinez simultaneously serve as their primary designated hitter and second catcher, but they also put themselves in a position where they can't go long without him. After Avila and Martinez, the next catcher on the depth chart was utilityman Don Kelly, who added catching duties to his resume this spring in case Detroit had an injury during a game or needed to make some late-game switches.

Under no circumstances, though, was Kelly seen as more than an insurance measure. That's why the Tigers signed Santos to a Minor League contract over the winter. The soon-to-be 30-year-old shared catching duties with the Mets in 2009, batting .260 with 14 doubles, seven home runs and 40 RBIs in 96 games before suffering an injury-shortened 2010 season.

Santos missed most of Spring Training with a broken toe, but returned to catching duties last week at Triple-A Toledo, where he went 6-for-14 with four RBIs in four games.

Lineupwise, Martinez's injury might have a small silver lining if it allows Magglio Ordonez to spend the next couple weeks primarily at DH to ease the wear and tear on his surgically repaired right ankle. Ordonez returned over the weekend after missing several days with fluid in the ankle, but Leyland indicated he'd need more rest from time to time.

The other impact will be in the corner outfield spots, where Ryan Raburn and Brennan Boesch will have everyday roles. That was going to be a squeeze with Ordonez back; Leyland moved Raburn to second base Monday night for the first time since last August in order to start Martinez and Ordonez. Boesch's solid April hitting, including two run-scoring hits Monday, has earned him a regular role again after making the team as essentially a fourth outfielder out of Spring Training.

That said, neither Raburn nor Boesch have the track record of Martinez, whose run production averages out to more than 100 RBIs over the course of a full season. He has topped 130 games only once since 2008, but when he plays, he produces, including a .299 career batting average and .836 OPS.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
–Joe Garagiola
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