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Series with Cardinals provides V-Mart a break

Coupled with day off Thursday, DH gets four days to rest healing left knee
MLB.com @beckjason

DETROIT -- Victor Martinez isn't headed to the disabled list. He is, however, headed to the Tigers' bench for the next few days thanks to Interleague Play.

The Tigers will be without the designated hitter slot for their three-game series against the Cardinals in St. Louis. Add in Martinez not being in the lineup for Thursday's series finale against the Twins, and it's essentially a four-day break on the heels of an 0-for-8 stretch this week, though he will be available to pinch-hit.

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DETROIT -- Victor Martinez isn't headed to the disabled list. He is, however, headed to the Tigers' bench for the next few days thanks to Interleague Play.

The Tigers will be without the designated hitter slot for their three-game series against the Cardinals in St. Louis. Add in Martinez not being in the lineup for Thursday's series finale against the Twins, and it's essentially a four-day break on the heels of an 0-for-8 stretch this week, though he will be available to pinch-hit.

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"We'll talk when we come back," Martinez said, when asked if the weekend out of the lineup should help. "We'll see. Hopefully it'll help."

Martinez said again on Wednesday that his left knee, on which he underwent surgery in February for a meniscus tear, is gradually improving. However, he has struggled with it. His 0-for-4 performance Wednesday included his first three-strikeout game in two years, dropping his average to .150 (12-for-80) against right-handed pitchers. He still has plate discipline with 11 walks and 12 strikeouts, but his left knee remains a hindrance when he bats left-handed.

Martinez said he has been watching video to see what habits he needs to break as his knee improves.

"There's a lot of things I'm doing that I really don't want to do," he said, "but at the end, it's getting better. I think I'm getting close to where I want to be."

By comparison, Martinez is batting .462 (12-for-26) against left-handers, keeping him a vital cog against teams with ample southpaw pitching, like the White Sox.

"Overall, the important thing is for Victor to get healthy," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "Six days ago, he looked good. Not as good the last couple. It didn't help him that he was sick [Tuesday] night and was questionable coming to the ballpark, whether he was going to play or not [Wednesday]. I wouldn't attribute everything to the knee surgery."

That was a bout of nausea, though Martinez said it wasn't an excuse.

At this point, a longer absence, such as a stint on the disabled list, appears to remain a long shot. Martinez hit his way through early struggles in 2013 following season-ending knee surgery the year before, and there's no evidence that a two-week DL stint would make a difference with his meniscus, which was clipped rather than fully repaired.

"I don't know. We'll see," Martinez said about a longer break. "We'll see what happens. But I don't have that in my mind."

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason.

Detroit Tigers, Victor Martinez