KANSAS CITY -- The text messages didn't wait until the end of the game. When Tigers outfielder J.D. Martinez suddenly left Monday night's 10-2 win win over the Royals in the middle of the sixth inning, family and friends wanted to know where he'd been traded."All my friends were texting
KANSAS CITY -- The text messages didn't wait until the end of the game. When Tigers outfielder J.D. Martinez suddenly left Monday night's 10-2 win win over the Royals in the middle of the sixth inning, family and friends wanted to know where he'd been traded.
"All my friends were texting me, 'Where are you getting traded?' Mom texted," Martinez said.
Nothing doing, Martinez told them. His lower back tightened up on him, and with the Tigers up big, he left the game as a precaution. Still, as trade rumors swirl, the move created a buzz.
With the non-waiver Trade Deadline approaching on July 31, expect more intrigue where that came from.
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Martinez said his back tightened as the game went on, believed to be the result of dehydration. First-pitch temperature at Kauffman Stadium was 92 degrees, with a heat index of 98. His spot in the lineup was on deck when Jose Cabrera grounded out to end the sixth inning, then Martinez told manager Brad Ausmus about it.
"I don't know what led to it. He just came to me and told me it was tightening up," Ausmus said. "He took some swings in the cage and told me it wasn't feeling any better."
Thus, as the Tigers took the field for the bottom of the inning, they didn't have a right fielder. Alex Presley hurriedly grabbed his glove and ran out to right.
The scene brought back memories of the 2014 Trade Deadline, when Austin Jackson was pulled from the game in the middle of an inning because he was in a three-team deal that had just been finalized to bring David Price to the Tigers.
In this case, though, there were no hugs, no tears, no goodbyes. Martinez knows they could be coming soon, but this wasn't the scenario.
Martinez said he expects to be able to play on Tuesday, when lefty Travis Wood takes the mound for the Royals. Temperatures are expected to reach the mid-90s, with an excessive heat warning set to take affect on Wednesday.
The Tigers had a 7-0 lead when Martinez was pulled on Monday. Several teams had scouts watching at Kauffman Stadium, including the D-backs, who are among those in talks about Martinez, according to MLB.com's Jon Morosi. No deal is close.
Even if the move was precautionary, there's a case to be made that Martinez's trade value creates at least some reason to be cautious. He is regarded as one of the top hitters available on the market. He's a free agent at season's end, and the Tigers are expected to trade him rather than settle for at best a compensation pick at the end of the fourth round if he leaves in the offseason.
Martinez already gave the Tigers an injury scare on Sunday when he pulled up funny after stealing second base in the 10th inning of their win over the Blue Jays. Martinez, who missed the first six weeks of the season with a Lisfranc ligament sprain in his right midfoot, insisted on Monday that he's fine, and said earlier this month he's no longer receiving treatment on the foot.
Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.