Detroit Tigers slugger Victor Martinez received some bad news Thursday when he learned that he’d torn the medial meniscus in his left knee and will require surgery.
Martinez, 36, will go under the knife on Tuesday with renowned surgeon Dr. James Andrews performing the surgery.
There is no immediate timetable for his return as the club won’t know the severity of the injury until after the procedure.
If it’s a simple clean-up, wherein the cartilage can be trimmed, the recovery time is typically 4-6 weeks. Not an insignificant amount of time by any means, but also not enough to cause Detroit to panic.
If it the cartilage has to be repaired, however, the recovery time increases exponentially and generally falls in the 12-16 weeks range. That type of delay could keep Martinez out of the lineup until June. If that’s the case, the Detroit front office may scramble to find some additional offense before Opening Day.
Martinez is no stranger to major knee injuries. The switch-hitting designated hitter also tore his left ACL prior to the 2012 campaign and missed the entire year. He’d also undergone a microfracture procedure on the same knee earlier that year. Needless to say, his left knee has been through a lot.
Last season, Martinez hit .335/.409/.565 with 188 hits, 32 home runs, and 28 intentional walks – all career highs. He also contributed 103 runs batted in, 33 doubles, and 87 runs scored.
Martinez was so locked in last season that he became just the third player in American League history to hit 30 homers while striking out fewer than 50 times in a season. Joining Martinez in that illustrious trio are Ted Williams (1957) and Joe DiMaggio (1950).
The strong season earned Martinez runner-up in the American League MVP voting behind Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout.
The Tigers re-signed Martinez to a four-year, $68 million deal earlier this offseason with hopes that he would continue to produce at a high-level, despite his age and the wear and tear from years behind the plate as a catcher.
We obviously won’t know anything conclusive until after the surgery, but this injury coupled with Detroit’s loss of Torii Hunter and Max Scherzer suddenly makes the AL Central look wide-open as we head toward spring training.