Adding a catcher looked like a necessity for the Detroit Tigers after Victor Martinez hobbled around the bases with an injured groin Monday night. Martinez was taken out of Monday’s game in the second inning and looked like a candidate for the disabled list.
The Tigers will wait at least one more day to make a decision on Martinez’s status. But in the meantime, they can’t play with Alex Avila as the only catcher on the roster. (Don Kelly is the team’s emergency catcher, but Leyland is only going to break the glass on that if absolutely needed.) So Detroit purchased the contract of Omir Santos from Triple-A Toledo for Tuesday’s game.
Santos signed a minor-league deal with the Tigers last December as organizational catching insurance. In four games with the Mud Hens this season, he compiled a .429/.438/.429 average.
Santos has been a minor leaguer through most of his 11 seasons in professional baseball. He’s had two major league stints, the longest of which was 96 games with the New York Mets in 2009. In 306 plate appearances, he batted .260/.396/.391 with seven home runs and 40 RBIs.
Even if Martinez doesn’t end up on the DL, the Tigers will have to make a corresponding roster move to clear a spot for Santos. That will be announced before Tuesday’s game. The Tigers have a day game versus the Mariners on Wednesday, then an off-day for travel, so it’s possible they’ll try to give Martinez a few days to rest that groin.
Manager Jim Leyland had already said Martinez wouldn’t play at catcher during the Seattle series after sitting him down for Sunday’s game at Oakland to rest a strained groin. Under normal circumstances, Martinez would’ve gotten the start on Wednesday with the Mariners pitching left-hander Erik Bedard.
Adding Santos to the 40-man roster became possible when Joel Zumaya was moved to the 60-day disabled list on Monday.