Two catchers in one of tightest American League divisions were placed on the 15-day disabled list earlier this week. Both Victor Martinez of the Detroit Tigers and Joe Mauer of the Minnesota Twins will miss time behind the plate, while their teams search for offensive production.
Clinical Notes - American League Catcher Woes
Wednesday April 20th, 2011
After injuring his groin at the plate last Saturday against the Oakland Athletics, Tigers catcher Victor Martinez aggravated the same injury in an at-bat versus the Seattle Mariners on Monday night. He tried to stay in the game, but, after advancing to second base, he was lifted for a pinch runner. On Tuesday, the Tigers officially placed Martinez on the disabled list with a strained right groin.
In 16 games this season, V-Mart has posted a triple-slash line of .250/.292/.417 with two home runs. Detroit has done a good job of keeping Martinez out from behind the plate this year, as he's started just five games at catcher and has played the rest of his games as the club's designated hitter.
With Martinez on the shelf, Alex Avila will serve as Detroit's full-time catcher (as he has for most of the season) while Omir Santos, just brought up from Triple-A Toledo, will be the backup catcher. Santos, 29, last saw major league playing time with the New York Mets in 2009 and is a career .254/.290/.381 hitter in 107 big league games.
Victor's injury certainly hurts the Tigers in the early going. In addition to Martinez's groin injury, the team also has injury concerns with outfielder Magglio Ordonez and has endured poor offensive production from outfielders Austin Jackson (.164/.239/.262) and Ryan Raburn (.226/.276/.377).
The Tigers are not the only team dealing with an injury to their catcher, as the Minnesota Twins will be without catcher Joe Mauer for at least 15 days. The team placed Mauer on the 15-day disabled list with bilateral leg weakness. In addition to the leg injury, he was also admitted to the hospital with a viral infection.
Despite having off-season knee surgery and missing most of spring training, the Twins started Mauer at catcher in 9 of the team's first 17 games. The former AL MVP has seen a specialist in Baltimore, Maryland and will be reevaluated after his return to Minnesota, but team officials don't believe that Mauer's injury will be a long-term issue.
While Mauer is out, Minnesota will rely on catching help from Drew Butera and Steve Holm, but both catchers had played exactly 56 career major league each entering Tuesday night.
For a team that is hurting to find any offensive spark, not having Mauer in the lineup every day is obviously a big hit. Thankfully for the Twins, there are two reasons things are not as bad as they appear: Mauer himself feels his ailments are unrelated, and it's early in the season, so the AL Central race is still wide open. But considering the Twins signed Mauer to an eight-year, $184 million extension in 2010, they need to find a way to keep him on the field, whether it is via more designated hitting duties, or as a first baseman.
On the Mend:
New York Mets outfielder Jason Bay, still recovering from a strained ribcage muscle, is expected to rejoin his team on Thursday. Bay will likely start in left field and hit fifth in their game against the Houston Astros. Due to a concussion, he hasn't played in a big league game since July 25th of last year. Bay is expected to play five rehab games, all with the Single-A St. Lucie Mets, before returning to New York.
Zack Greinke, who suffered a cracked rib in spring training, threw three scoreless innings of one-hit ball during his first rehabilitation outing on Tuesday night for the Brevard County Manatees. Greinke threw a total of 35 pitches, striking out four and walking none. The Brewers want Greinke to make a total of three rehab starts before returning to the major league mound in his first official start for Milwaukee. His next start will likely be with the Triple-A Nashville Sounds, and he could be activated from the disabled list during the first week of May.
Another recovering Brewer made a step toward a return to action Tuesday night, as outfielder Corey Hart had two at-bats in his first rehab start of the season with the Nashville Sounds. Hart, who is returning from an oblique injury, was injured prior to the exhibition games in spring training but is looking at a return to the Milwaukee lineup near the end of April. When Hart returns to the Brewers lineup, he'll likely bat second, pushing outfielder Carlos Gomez to the bottom of the batting order..
Comments are closed.