Victor Martinez was one of the bright spots for the Detroit Tigers in their 6-5 win over the Atlanta Braves in the opening game of the Grapefruit League. Martinez went 2-for-3 with a pair of RBIs in the win.
The start by Martinez is encouraging for the Tigers as they will be counting on him this season. With the departure of Prince Fielder this offseason, there is a hole to fill in the cleanup spot and Martinez is the leading candidate to do so. A dangerous cleanup hitter is very important for the Tigers as it provides protection for Miguel Cabrera. If Martinez can produce behind in the cleanup spot, it would force teams to pitch to Cabrera rather than intentionally walk him.
Cabrera has proven that he is the best hitter in baseball with his back-to-back MVP seasons and a Triple Crown in 2012, so the Tigers would like to see him get pitched to as much as possible.
Besides Martinez, the Tigers don’t have another cleanup option on their roster. Because he is the only option, the Tigers could really use a strong start from him. Two hits and two RBIs in the opening game of Spring Training is a good sign. Martinez had a full offseason of preparation coming into this season, something he didn’t have in 2013 due to a knee injury in the 2012 season, and that should bode well for him this year.
He has proven he can put up numbers worthy of the cleanup spot, hitting .330 with 103 RBIs with the Tigers in 2011, and he will look to put up similar numbers this year.
The Tigers are looking to get over the hump and win the World Series this season after losing in the World Series and the ALCS in the past two seasons respectively. With a new manager and a lot of questions in the bullpen, the Tigers could use assurance that Martinez is a capable of filling Fielder’s old role. While one Spring Training game isn’t enough to say whether it will work out or not, it is a promising start.