DETROIT -- Tigers designated hitter Victor Martinez has been hinting since Spring Training that this season is probably going to be his last. As the regular season winds down, those hints are growing stronger, to the point Martinez stopped just shy of a formal announcement after the Tigers' 6-5 loss
DETROIT -- Tigers designated hitter Victor Martinez has been hinting since Spring Training that this season is probably going to be his last. As the regular season winds down, those hints are growing stronger, to the point Martinez stopped just shy of a formal announcement after the Tigers' 6-5 loss to the White Sox on Wednesday at Comerica Park.
"I'm pretty sure this is going to be it," he said during a postgame interview that aired on FOX Sports Detroit. "This is going to be it. I'm just enjoying these last six weeks and I'll finally go home."
The scenario for a retirement at season's end has been clear for a while. Martinez, who turns 40 years old in December, is in the last season of a four-year contract negotiated with late owner Mike Ilitch. The Tigers, meanwhile, are in rebuilding mode, and they have raised the idea of using 35-year-old first baseman Jose Cabrera as the designated hitter at least part-time next season once he returns from surgery on his ruptured left biceps.
As this season has gone on, Martinez has had his family join him regularly, both at home and on the road. His son, Victor Jose, threw out the ceremonial first pitch to his dad before Saturday's game against the Twins. When the Tigers were on the West Coast last week, Martinez was running with his daughters on the field at Angel Stadium before a game.
Martinez made plans a few years ago for his post-playing career. He has built a ranch in central Florida and plans on raising livestock.
"I've been enjoying the whole year," Martinez told reporters. "I told the guys: We have to enjoy it. We're lucky just to be here in this room. We just have to enjoy it, because you never know where you're going to be tomorrow."
Martinez knows that feeling first-hand. He was hospitalized twice last season with an accelerated heartbeat, a situation that put his career into perspective. His father passed away from a heart attack when Victor was a young child.
Martinez opted to return this season after undergoing a procedure last year to correct his heartbeat. He has been healthy this season while manager Ron Gardenhire has rested him for most day games after night games.
"We know what's happening here; he's winding down," Gardenhire said before Wednesday's game. "These guys love him. In situations like [Tuesday] night, he gets a couple hits, he's running the bases and comes into the dugout, and everybody's greeting him, high-fiving him. He's really excited, and that brings it to everybody. Everybody in the dugout's enjoying this because of his career and how much he really is into this, trying to help these guys out. He talks to these young guys all the time. He's so, so much more important than the stats."
Despite the health issues, Martinez has put up what he called one of the worst offensive seasons of his career. He's batting .244 (90-for-369) with six home runs, 39 RBIs and a .624 OPS. He contributed a pinch-hit RBI single in the ninth inning on Wednesday.
For his career, Martinez is batting .295 with 243 home runs, 1,163 RBIs and an .815 OPS over a 16-year career between the Indians, Red Sox and Tigers. He signed with Detroit as a free agent after the 2010 season, served as the primary DH on AL Central championship teams in 2011, '13 and '14, and he finished runner-up to Michael Trout for the AL MVP Award in '14.
"I'm just really thankful God put me in this position, 39 and I'm still trying to play," Martinez said. "I've been going out there and battling with these young guys that throw 100. I'm just happy that I've been healthy, just trying to do something here that helps the team."
Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.