Signed by the Tigers to be their primary DH, Martinez hasn't caught for over two years. Martinez has appeared in 853 games as a catcher in his career, but his last appearance behind the plate was August 4, 2011. Martinez has caught only 26 times since signing with the Tigers, all in 2011.
Expected to at least occasionally back up Alex Avila when he joined the Tigers, Martinez's numerous knee issues has kept him limited to DH and first base duties. Tonight will be only his 11th game in the field, ten as a first baseman, since missing the entire 2012 season with a torn ACL.
There are extenuating circumstances for Martinez catching. Avila is currently on the 7-day concussion DL and is rehabbing at Triple-A Toledo. Backup Brayan Pena suffered a toe injury late in Wednesday's game and was limited to pinch hitting duty Thursday. Currently, the only healthy catcher on the Tigers is Bryan Holaday.
Being the Tigers are playing in a National League park the next three games, they want to keep Martinez's very potent bat in the lineup without removing another - namely that of Prince Fielder. Martinez broke out of a season long slump in July, hitting .356/.410/.470 since the All-Star break.
The same logic applies to the postseason. If Martinez proves he can handle the defensive and physical rigors behind the plate, this would give the Tigers additional lineup flexibility if they reach the World Series.