Thursday night's Detroit Tigers-Cincinnati Reds game got postponed due to rain, but that didn't dampen the announcement that Victor Martinez would be activated from the disabled list prior to Friday's series opener against the New York Yankees. In preparation for Martinez's return to the Tigers, the team optioned OF Tyler Collins to Triple-A Toledo.
Martinez underwent medial meniscectomy surgery on his left knee on Feb. 10 and was expected to be out four to six weeks. His recovery went about as expected and was in the Opening Day lineup, but it was easy to see that Martinez was not 100 percent and his knee was still gaining strength back. After May rolled around, Martinez was still struggling at the plate, unable to run comfortably or bat left-handed with ease.
Tigers manager Brad Ausmus gave Martinez several days off in mid-May during an interleague series with the Cardinals in the hopes that the rest would help his knee. Martinez returned to the lineup on May 18 but was taken out of the game after reaggravating his knee. The Tigers placed Martinez on the 15-day disabled list on May 19, a source telling Bless You Boys at the time the team expected Martinez to be gone until sometime in July -- barring progress that allowed him to return early.
Martinez spent the majority of his rehab at home in Orlando, Fla and was allowed to resume baseball activities on June 2, returning to Detroit to continue his rehab on June 9. During Martinez's time in Orlando, Ausmus said that Martinez looked significantly improved, able to run and move without a limp from the videos he had received.
On June 14 Martinez began a four-game rehab assignment with the Mud Hens, going 5-for-17 with a double, three RBI, and two strikeouts. When Martinez went on the DL back in May, the Tigers said that the DH would not be returning to the team until Martinez was 100 percent, something they didn't do the first time around with Martinez.
Getting Martinez's bat back, particularly left-handed, will restore some much-needed stability to the right-handed heavy lineup. Collins, though, also a left-handed bat, did well for the Tigers in Martinez's absence, and the move to send him back to Toledo is a surprising one. Particularly so because the Tigers already lack power off the bench and having Collins' left-handed bat is a valuable commodity.
In 18 games played, Collins bat .275/.315/.490 with seven RBI, a double, two triples, two home runs, three walks, and seven runs scored. With Martinez returning from the DL on Friday, Martinez will likely start during the first of the three-game series against the Yankees. The Tigers' rotation will remain the same -- Justin Verlander, Alfredo Simon, Anibal Sanchez -- but the Yankees have yet to announce their starters for the upcoming series.