V-Mart working to fix swing amid slump
Tigers believe DH's surgically repaired knee not an issue
BALTIMORE -- Most of the Tigers were still rolling into Camden Yards as Victor Martinez stepped into the cage, taking extra batting practice early Saturday afternoon. His pitcher was manager Brad Ausmus, taking matters into his own hands.
With Martinez in the midst of a second-half slump -- he entered Saturday 11-for-58 (.190) since the All-Star break with no home runs since July 17 -- the player and the coaching staff are trying to figure out the root cause. Contrary to popular belief, they don't believe it's the knee, but the swing.
"He hasn't swung the bat like he normally does," Ausmus said. "He's really just getting out front and pulling too much with his front side. The swing's getting a little long. It started out on the left-hand side and he's doing a little of the same with the right, so he was out there today trying to fix it."
The left knee, which was surgically repaired in the offseason and led to a disabled list stint this season, is not the issue, Ausmus said. Martinez indicated it was OK earlier in the week.
"I feel way better [swinging] left-handed when I went onto the DL, that's for sure," Martinez said Tuesday. "I just keep working on the knee and the legs."
When the knee was an issue, it was almost entirely so when Martinez hit left-handed. He seemed late with his swing batting right-handed Monday night when he faced Rays lefty Jake McGee, struggling to catch up with his fastball.
"He made a good pitch," Martinez said. "I tried to get on top of that. He was throwing pretty hard."
In other Tigers news
• The Tigers are pushing back right-hander Alfredo Simon in the rotation order next week to give him a few extra days of rest for a groin injury, which left him throwing with arm strength rather than his full delivery Thursday. Justin Verlander, Buck Farmer and Anibal Sanchez will start in next week's series against the Royals at Comerica Park. Simon, who would've started Wednesday in the rotation order, is instead slated to start Saturday against the Red Sox after Daniel Norris makes his Comerica Park debut Friday night.
• Ausmus reiterated that he doesn't have set roles in his bullpen but said he'll likely use Alex Wilson and Blaine Hardy in save situations for the time being. Neftali Feliz, who encouraged coaches with two scoreless innings Friday, and Bruce Rondon will pitch setup.