Brad Ausmus wants Victor Martinez catching again

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Victor Martinez missed the entire 2012 season with a knee injury and caught only three times all of last season, but two years after his last regular game action behind the plate he’s putting on the gear again this spring.

Tom Gage of the Detroit News writes that new Tigers manager Brad Ausmus called Martinez during the offseason to tell him to be ready for some catching duties and according to Ausmus “he was thrilled with it.”

Alex Avila remains the Tigers’ starting catcher and the vast majority of Martinez’s action will no doubt still come as a designated hitter, but Ausmus specifically cited interleague games in NL parks as a reason for Martinez to get back behind the plate at age 35.

Michael Brantley has ankle surgery, to be sidelined 4-5 months

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The Cleveland Indians just announced that outfielder Michael Brantley underwent arthroscopic ankle surgery yesterday, aimed at stabilizing ligaments. He’s expected to be able to resume baseball activities in 4-5 months, which is likely to delay the beginning of his 2018 season.

Brantley only played in 90 games for the Indians in 2017, sitting out most of August and all of September, but returning for the postseason. He injured the ankle in a game against the Rockies on August 8 and it never did get quite right, as his 1-for-11 line in the ALDS suggested. On the season as a whole Brantley hit .299/.357/.444 with nine homers and 52 driven in.

Brantley’s contract expires with the 2017 season, but there is a 2018 team option at a relatively reasonable $11 million. While he has only played 101 games in the past two seasons combined due to injuries, his strong performance from 2012-2015, and his status as a team leader, will likely lead the Indians to exercise that option.