With the news that Tigers catcher Alex Avila was suffering from severe tendinitis in both knees by the end of the season, getting a reserve catcher that can provide some relief seems like a priority for next year.
But one of the players on the Tigers roster who’s played most of his career at catcher insists he’ll be healthy enough to back up Avila. Victor Martinez told FOXSports.com’s Jon Paul Morosi that he will “definitely” be able to catch next season.
“(Alex) is the everyday catcher,” Martinez said. “I’m going to catch whenever he needs a day off — that’s my mentality. I knew that when I decided to come here. I know he was going to be the everyday catcher. … I want to be there to help him out.”
Martinez was signed primarily to be the team’s designated hitter, but there was also the thought that he could end up playing quite a bit at catcher if Avila hadn’t developed into a full-time major league player.
Obviously, Avila showed he could handle the job, if not necessarily the workload. So Martinez wasn’t needed as much behind the plate. However, after suffering a sprained left knee in early August, he didn’t play another game at catcher for the rest of the season. Martinez said the injury prevented him from going into a crouch.
Ultimately, Martinez caught 26 games for the Tigers in 2011. (Avila caught 133.) If he can’t give the Tigers more than that — perhaps 40 or so games — the team might have to pursue another option. But would playing Martinez more at catcher affect his offensive production, which was the primary reason the Tigers signed him? That’s something the team will have to consider this offseason.