Victor Martinez returned from February knee surgery in time for Opening Day and has played 34 of 39 games for the Tigers, but he’s clearly looked less than full strength and now he’s “likely” headed to the disabled list according to Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press.
Last season Martinez hit .335 with 32 homers and a .974 OPS, striking out just 42 times in 641 plate appearances on the way to finishing runner-up in the MVP voting. This season Martinez has hit .216 with one homer and a .578 OPS, striking out 13 times in 130 plate appearances. That includes a rare three-strikeout game last week as part of Martinez’s current 0-for-13 stretch.
Certainly plenty of 36-year-olds simply decline, so it’s possible age has played a part in Martinez’s plummeting production, but just from watching his at-bats it seems clear that he’s having trouble putting weight on his surgically repaired knee. Detroit re-signed Martinez to a four-year, $68 million contract this offseason, so they’re betting big on him avoiding an age-related decline and have lots of motivation to take a long-term approach to his health by shutting him down for a while.