Ausmus: J.D. Martinez ‘could be back by the weekend’

By ANTHONY FENECH

Tribune News Service

PHOENIX — The timetable for J.D. Martinez to rejoin the Detroit Tigers has not changed.

Tigers manager Brad Ausmus is listing him as “possible” to return from the disabled list this weekend against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

For a third consecutive day, Martinez started in right field for Triple-A Toledo on Wednesday. He played back-to-back full games in right field the previous two days, moving closer to his return.

“I think he could be back by the weekend,” Ausmus said, “but it doesn’t mean he will be back.”

Martinez is rehabilitating from a Lisfranc sprain in his right foot, sustained on March 18, that has kept him out for nearly seven weeks.

He still is working out his timing issues at the plate with the Mud Hens, going 0-for-7 with four strikeouts and one walk in his first two games.

If not this weekend, he should be back — barring any setbacks — during the team’s next homestand.

The question now remains which outfielder the Tigers will send down to make room for Martinez on the 25-man roster. The options are right-handed hitting Mikie Mahtook and lefty hitter Jim Adduci.

Mahtook delivered a game-winning, two-run single in Tuesday night’s win over the Diamondbacks. Adduci has been hot at the plate since coming up two weeks ago, hitting .317 in 12 games.

The decision, Ausmus said, likely will come down to center field.

“Ideally, you’d want one right-handed and one left-handed hitter in center field,” he said. “You could throw Romine in the mix as a switch-hitter because you’re not going to pinch-hit for J.D.

“So really, it just boils down to center and on a day where you give Upton or J.D. off you’re probably going to give them the day off against a righty, so you might want to have a lefty play that day so it’s more about center than anything else.”

Mahtook has extensive major league experience in center field. Adduci played center field in Korea the past two seasons, and Ausmus has spoken to him recently about getting more acclimated at the spot.

The Tigers face a number of righty starting pitchers coming up. Ausmus said the team doesn’t necessarily factor in the righty-lefty matchups in the bullpen.

“Not so much because you’re going to have one of each in center,” Ausmus said. “And like I said, you’re not going to pinch hit for a corner outfielder if they’re not playing. And if they’re not playing, you might pinch-hit J.D. or Upton for whoever started the game, regardless of righty or lefty.”

Mahtook has only started against lefty pitchers this season.

“It’s never an easy decision when you have to send someone out,” he said. “It’s never a fun thing to do but we’ll just wait and truthfully, we’re going to wait to see how guys are playing.

“Now, if we don’t have to make a decision until Friday, we’ll see how it’s going between now and Friday. If (Martinez) doesn’t come back until the off-day (on Monday), we’ll wait and see how things go through the weekend.”

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Posted by Scott Yoshonis

Scott is the sports editor of the Manistee News Advocate. You can reach him at (231) 398-3112 or syoshonis@pioneergroup.com.

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