"Right now, I'm planning on him playing [Sunday], but we'd have to adjust in the morning."
Martinez took a big swing against Indians reliever Bryan Shaw on the pitch before his seventh-inning RBI single, hobbling on one leg and reaching for his back. He had reached for his back after a couple of other swings this week, including Friday, but he hadn't struggled with the knee that way since returning to action in mid-March.
Martinez got back in the box and lined a two-out single to left-center field to give the Tigers a 5-3 lead, but he trotted slowly to first base. Ausmus and head athletic trainer Kevin Rand met him at the bag.
"In a game like this, I don't want to come out," Martinez said. "I knew that I was going to get another at-bat."
Martinez clearly wanted to run for himself, but he eventually went back to the dugout. Hernan Perez ran for him.
"The truth is, if he hadn't had the knee surgery, I don't know that we would have taken him out of the game," Ausmus said. "I needed [first-base coach] Omar [Vizquel] to speak in Spanish to him to convince him that he needed to come out. He told me he was fine in English and then Omar convinced him that it would be smarter to come out."
Martinez underwent surgery in February for a torn meniscus, sustained while playing catch in late January. He moved around slowly for much of Spring Training, including upon his return, but he seemed to be moving around better over the last week or so.
Saturday's setback is something Martinez considers part of the recovery process.
"I'm not concerned," he said, "because I've been here before. The same thing happened two, three years ago when I lost the whole year [in 2012 to ACL surgery]. I had to deal with it for quite a bit.
"I have to keep doing my exercises and stuff. Eventually, it's going to get better, get stronger."
The Tigers have a ready-made rest period for Martinez coming up next week with three games in Pittsburgh, where they won't have the designated hitter available. Ausmus said Saturday he would not use Martinez in the field, only as a pinch-hitter.