J.D. Martinez remains upbeat about recovery

Tigers outfielder knows fractured elbow could have been a worse injury

J.D. Martinez remains upbeat about recovery

DETROIT -- Tigers outfielder J.D. Martinez knew he had injured his right elbow as soon as he bounced off the wall in the right-field corner at Kauffman Stadium on Thursday night. He also knew that he didn't want Paulo Orlando to get an inside-the-park home run out of the fly ball down the line.

So Martinez, his elbow starting to throb, ran after the ball and flung it towards the infield, hitting Ian Kinsler on a bounce in short right field.

"I'm like, 'Oh my God, I have to get this ball in,'" Martinez said before Friday's game against the Royals. "I didn't have anything on it. I just chucked it. I did the best I could."

It's that competitiveness that's going to make the next four to six weeks miserable for Martinez as he recovers from a fractured bone in his elbow. Just as he felt like his game was coming together, especially at the plate, his season is on hold for at least a month.

"Depressing, especially with how I've been feeling," Martinez said. "I've been feeling good at the plate, like I finally found my timing, my rhythm, my swing. At the beginning [of the season], it was kind of a struggle. Any one of these guys, Victor, Miggy, J-Up, if these guys get hot, they can carry a team. The way I was feeling, I was like I was on the verge right there. It just stinks, because now you have to start over."

Martinez entered Thursday on a seven-game hitting streak, going 15-for-27 in that stretch. He ranks second on the Tigers with 12 home runs and 39 RBIs to go with a .287 batting average.

Martinez also realizes he could've ended up in much worse shape. The Tigers medical staff has reminded him of that already.

"He has a small crack and it's non-displaced. It's going to heal fine," head athletic trainer Kevin Rand said. "You won't see any cast or anything like that. What he needs to do, really, is to some degree move around and be active as the soreness allows. It's just a matter of time. ...

"Of all the injuries he could have had running into that wall, that was probably the best he could've had. You get into the wrist and things like that, then it starts to affect the swing."

By avoiding a cast, or even a brace, the expectation is that Martinez can avoid the muscle atrophy around the injury that would cost more time on the other end of the recovery process. Since it's a non-displaced fracture in the radius bone, it doesn't need to be reset.

However, those movements aren't going to include swinging a bat anytime soon.

"In my craziness, I've already thought about a million things to do," Martinez said. "Once I get rid of this pain where I can actually move [the elbow], I want to go down to the bullpen and track pitchers, stand in on side sessions."

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.