DETROIT -- When Tigers designated hitter Victor Martinez sat at his locker to answer questions about his health and what his return to the lineup will mean for a team that had dropped 13 of 17 games entering Tuesday, he spoke with a tone that was as cautious as it
DETROIT -- When Tigers designated hitter Victor Martinez sat at his locker to answer questions about his health and what his return to the lineup will mean for a team that had dropped 13 of 17 games entering Tuesday, he spoke with a tone that was as cautious as it was excited.
Martinez, 38, who was diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat and hasn't played since exiting in the seventh inning of a game on June 16, is expected to rejoin the Tigers' starting lineup on Wednesday. Before Tuesday's game against the Royals, he opened up about his family's history of heart conditions. His father had three heart attacks and died from one. Martinez said the recent problem was his first heart irregularity, but he's cognizant of the risks.
"That makes you appreciate your life more," he said. "You know what? You have to enjoy life every day. Day by day. You just never know. I always think that way and just trying to live my life and make the most out of it, and that's it."
During a game against the Rays on June 16, Martinez said he felt a problem in the early innings and told Tigers first-base coach Omar Vizquel about it. By the seventh inning, Martinez said he could barely swing the bat, and he was removed for a pinch-runner.
Manager Brad Ausmus said after the game that Martinez had been removed because of cold sweats, dizziness and an accelerated heartbeat, but there wasn't a "high level of concern." Martinez stayed in the hospital that night and he has had limited baseball activities in the 10 days since.
Martinez, who hopes Tuesday will be his last day wearing a heart monitor, took regular batting practice and ran the bases for the first time since going on the disabled list. He said he's no longer on the medication he'd been taking and he feels good.
The injury hasn't made Martinez think about whether his career is at risk. He's not a doctor, he said, and therefore he can't think about that. Martinez, currently signed through 2018, said he knows how long he's going to play.
As for getting back on the field, Martinez said he's excited, admitting it wasn't fun sitting on the couch and watching his teammates go 1-6 on the recent West Coast trip. With the heart scare seemingly behind him, Martinez and his teammates are looking ahead to his return as a regular in the clubhouse and the batter's box.
"Vic's obviously one of the key pieces on our team," outfielder Michael Mahtook said. "He's a great guy and any time you go through that, injuries are terrible, but that was a scary situation. I'm glad to see him back and smiling."
Jordan Horrobin is a reporter for MLB.com based in Detroit.