V-Mart to undergo surgery on left knee
Tigers star tears medial meniscus, putting Opening Day status in question
DETROIT -- For the second time in four years, Victor Martinez has suffered a major knee injury during offseason workouts. This one doesn't appear to be as severe, but it'll put at least the start of his season in question.
The Tigers announced Thursday that Martinez has torn the medial meniscus in his left knee. Martinez tore the cartilage last week during workouts in Florida and underwent an MRI and exam on Wednesday in Lakeland, Fla., where the tear became clear.
Noted orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews will perform the surgery Tuesday at his clinic in Pensacola, Fla. The Tigers aren't giving a timetable until then, when they know the extent of the surgery.
Martinez was doing baseball activity when he suffered the injury, team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said. Dombrowski said he found out about the injury Tuesday afternoon, shortly after his appearance at the Detroit Sports Broadcasters Association luncheon.
Team doctors examined Martinez on Wednesday and got mixed news. While the knee ligaments were fine, the meniscus was torn. "It's a lot different," Dombrowski said. "This one is cartilage." That didn't make the news any easier on Martinez.
"I talked to him before he actually got the MRI," manager Brad Ausmus said. "He was concerned, and he sounded down initially. Then I talked to him after the MRI, and obviously he was upset.
"He was audibly shaken. I can't say visibly shaken because I didn't see him."
How much time Martinez misses, according to experts, depends on the type of procedure. Dr. Victor Khabie, Chief of Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Surgery at Northern Westchester Hospital in New York state, said most athletes who have a meniscus tear require a clean-out -- where the meniscus is clipped -- rather than a full reattachment.
"Most ballplayers at his level, especially since he's had multiple surgeries, are going to want to go in and do a clipping," Dr. Khabie said. "One, it gets you back much quicker. Two, the tear isn't in that specific zone [that requires a reattachment]. Ninety percent of the tears are not in that critical zone."
A clean-out typically requires four to six weeks of recovery. Because Martinez has had previous surgeries, including a repair of his meniscus in 2012 after he tore his anterior cruciate ligament, he could be more cautious, missing six to eight weeks.
A reattachment, Dr. Khabie said, requires up to six months of recovery.
Josh Willingham missed fewer than six weeks for the Twins with a similar injury two years ago. Reds outfielder Jay Bruce missed just three weeks for a partial tear last year. Joey Votto had minor surgery for a torn medial meniscus in 2012 and missed about six weeks. However, Phillies slugger Ryan Howard missed the second half of the 2013 season after suffering a similar injury in July.
Martinez finished runner-up to Mike Trout for American League MVP Award honors last year, batting .335 with 32 home runs and 103 RBIs. His presence was supposed to help balance the Tigers' offense while Miguel Cabrera recovers from offseason surgery to repair a stress fracture in his foot.
"Losing a guy like Victor for any length of time is a big blow," Ausmus said. "Losing that bat, especially when he's really the one power threat from the left side facing a right-handed pitcher, [is tough].
"We're hoping for the best, but as last season showed, losing [reliever Bruce] Rondon and [shortstop Jose] Iglesias for the season, sometimes things are out of your control."