Last week, Tigers fans held their collective breath when the club revealed that Victor Martinez had injured his left knee. With less than two weeks until spring training, everyone feared the worst when it came to Martinez's health. Today, the Tigers announced that Martinez underwent medial meniscectomy surgery in his left knee and would be out for four to six weeks.
"We are very happy the surgery went well and that Victor will be ready to compete for the start of the 2015 season," said Dave Dombrowski via the team's official press release. Martinez underwent surgery with orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews on the same knee that he had surgically repaired in 2012. Martinez underwent two separate procedures at that time, including one to repair a torn ACL, and missed the entire season.
The outlook for this surgery and subsequent rehab is far rosier. Head athletic trainer Kevin Rand echoed this sentiment, saying, "This was the best possible news for us, no question about it." Martinez will still miss nearly all of spring training this year, and there is no guarantee that he will be ready for Opening Day, which is eight weeks away. He took a long time to get his timing back after his previous knee surgery, though his layoff was much longer.
Martinez signed a four year, $68 million contract this offseason, ensuring his future with the team through the 2018 season. He hit a career-best .335/.409/.565 with 32 home runs and 103 RBI in 2014. His .409 on-base percentage and .974 OPS led the American League, and he finished second to Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels in the MVP voting. Martinez was worth 4.4 WAR last season, the highest total for a full-time DH since David Ortiz was worth 6.2 WAR in 2007.
Naturally, manager Brad Ausmus seemed relieved. "I would say based on Dr. Andrews' assessment that this is about as good of news that we could have hoped for." Barring any setbacks, the Tigers should not have to fill Martinez's spot in the lineup for more than a handful of games, something that can be done with players already in the system. With Martinez on the shelf, the Tigers will also be able to use Miguel Cabrera as the designated hitter until he is healthy enough to resume his duties at first base. Cabrera underwent right ankle surgery earlier this offseason to remove bone spurs and repair a navicular stress fracture.