Two related pieces of Victor Martinez news passed through the beats on Monday. The first: He says this Tigers team is the best one he's been a member of. You might recall he was on the 2013 team, so that's pretty high praise. The second: "I can swing now." That's good, because in order for the Tigers to compete, they're going to need a happy, healthy switch-hitting Martinez in the middle of the order, getting on base and driving in runs. They didn't have that in 2015.
Last year on a cold February day in Detroit, the Tigers reported Martinez had again injured his surgically-repaired knee. Less than a month later, he made his first appearance in Lakeland, Florida, rushing back to spring training to be with his teammates and so ready to go that manager Brad Ausmus was trying to find ways to keep him from taking too many swings off the batting tee. We know how that turned out: Too much time lost to the disabled list during the regular season and a .245/.301/.366 line. Martinez called it "the worst year" in his career. Coupled with Miguel Cabrera's injuries and others, the Tigers scored just 689 runs -- 10th in the AL of 15 teams -- and finished 74-87.
"I tried, I played, whatever," Martinez said on Monday (via Anthony Fenech of the Freep). "But it is what it is. I had a bad year in my career. But you know what's the great thing about it? It's over."
The projections systems aren't real hot on Martinez -- a 37-year-old former catcher who performed poorly last season after being injured -- so it's easy to imagine he'll put up better numbers than expected. But how much better? It's hard saying. He *is* just two years removed from his best season ever, but he'll have to prove 2015 was a fluke first. In spring training, every player is ready to have a great season, everyone's in wonderful shape. Martinez's performance will go a long way toward making the team is as good as he says.
Elsewhere in camp:
Jose Iglesias wants to be a better teammate this year. Steven Moya feels like winter ball helped him to improve. Shane Greene's blood clots are beginning to clear up, but it's going to take more time.
Videos and pics of the day
Miggy is in camp!
Justin Verlander's hair is beautiful!
A photo posted by Justin Verlander (@justinverlander) on
Justin Upton took batting practice
Around the division
Another round of Vegas odds, another victory for the Indians. But hey, it's easy to win in February. In Chicago, the White Sox signed Jimmy Rollins to a minor league deal. The Royals are in the best shapes of their lives.
Other links to check out
- Michael Hanson of the New York Times wrote about and photographed a trip to the Dominican Republic, a nation with an incredible love for baseball. (ht Craig Calcaterra)
- Grant Brisbee writes about the fascinating thought of Barry Bonds serving as the Marlins' hitting coach -- and that we'll never really be able to tell if he's any good at it.
- Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy is a jackass. (News at 11.)
- Jose Bautista isn't taking a "home town discount." Which is good since Toronto isn't his home town.
And finally ...
Florida on my mind... pic.twitter.com/9lDdSqCNUl— Chelsea Freeman (@chelseafree5) February 22, 2016