By: Holly Horning & Kurt Snyder
Another spring training and another injury for VMart. How will the Tigers handle him this year? How careful will they be? Our writers will mince no words on the subject.
What should the strategy regarding Victor Martinez be going forward?
VMart concerns me on two fronts – his injury frequency and the need for his role on the team to take this into account.
I’ve heard from multiple physical therapists, personal trainers and chiropractors that when a person accumulates a pattern of injury, there is a reason why this is happening and it has little to do with age. If injuries happen after routine movement, such as Victor’s simple acceleration on the basepath and game of catch last year, the experts unanimously agree that this is part of a pattern requiring special attention.
And these experts who deal with injury point to possible factors that are often the culprits – spinal alignment (each vertebrae is directly tied to the health of a specific body part), lack of adequate core strength (which supports proper movement) and stiff or shorter ligaments/tendons/muscles/Iliotibial band (which increase the chance for knee and calf injury) – all with the ability to create an imbalance in the body that makes it more susceptible to injury.
Obviously, we don’t have access to Victor’s medical records, nor are we privy to the Tigers’ discussions. But it worries me that the official word has been “rest”, “no running” and “soft toss” as the solution – instead of hearing “specialist”, “chiropractor” or “diagnostics”. His recent injuries have occurred after simple exercise which should merit a review by medical professionals to determine the root cause.
Until that happens, any strategy re VMart’s role needs to be based upon how easily he gets injured. And this means not putting him at first base where he hasn’t played in over a year. No first base early in the season when he’s not fully acclimated and definitely not in cooler weather when it’s easier to pull something.
If Victor can’t even run a straight line without getting hurt, how could he be expected to play a position that would require him to dive, lunge, twist, jump and make lateral moves?
The risk of putting him at first base has to be very carefully measured with the reward. The Tigers have only 7 games this season where NL rules will be used. Will moving your top 2 hitters into unfamiliar positions significantly increase your chances of winning? If your team is full of talent, one player shouldn’t be the difference between winning and losing most of those games.
Despite being a DH, Victor can still hit in those NL games and be a significant factor. The Tigers can maximize his impact by pinch-hitting him in situations with runners in scoring position.
We know that VMart and Miggy will accept whatever role suggested because they are gamers and team players. But while Brad has correctly stated that “Victor needs to be saved from Victor”, in the next breath he wants to put him in a riskier position.
We’ve just seen what a year without a healthy VMart is like. Is it really worth the risk again this year when October baseball is a must for the Tigers?
Well, there is no need to ask how important VMart is to this team and this lineup. Last season the Tigers were hell bent on rushing him back in time to be in the lineup on Opening Day.
They are in a similar position this season. But you can only hope they have learned their lesson . It only took the average fan to see on Opening Day that he was nowhere near 100%. He belonged on the DL, not in the lineup. But it took a manager, a GM and the owner to determine that he needed to sit.
With 2 weeks until the Tigers begin the season in Miami, this is what we know for sure; Victor will come nowhere near first base, as it should be. Miggy will come nowhere near third base, as it should be. Victor should be sitting on the bench, healthy or not.
In April, I take no chances with a player so critical to the success of this team. Victor goes on the DL until he is 100% . But if he is magically medically cleared to play come April 5th, I will just shake my head.
I am concerned about a player who continually gets injured through the normal course of business on the field. I am concerned again that the Tigers are screwing around and poorly addressing the health of their players. What in the heck is going on?
Al Avila has done some great things with this franchise. But he needs to get his arms around how the team prevents and addresses injuries. It’s absolutely exasperating how we must deal with the same things every season before the first ball is thrown. You start with Victor on the DL and get to the bottom of it.