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06/11/08 10:59 PM ET
Tribe's Martinez to have MRI on elbow
Inflammation forces Tribe catcher to exit after just one at-bat
By Anthony Castrovince / MLB.com
CLEVELAND -- As it turns out, the left hamstring strain Victor Martinez suffered Opening Day isn't the only injury he's endured this year.
Martinez left Wednesday night's game against the Twins after the first inning with right elbow inflammation. Manager Eric Wedge said Martinez will receive an MRI exam Thursday to determine the severity of the injury and whether it will require a stay on the disabled list.
Wedge also revealed that Martinez has been playing through pain in his elbow for a while now.
"It's something he's been battling off and on all year," Wedge said. "He's a tough cookie. He's as tough as I've seen behind the plate."
The Indians have cited the hamstring problem as a hindrance for Martinez at the plate, where he is batting .278 with no homers and 21 RBIs this season. Wedge has sat Martinez several times in recent weeks and cited the hamstring issue as the reason.
But the revelation of an elbow injury just adds to the theories as to why Martinez has had virtually no power all year.
On Wednesday, the elbow flared up on Martinez during his first-inning at-bat against Nick Blackburn. In that at-bat, Martinez swung awkwardly, hit a weak grounder to the left side and was unable to beat out the throw to first by shortstop Brendan Harris, who had to charge in on the ball.
Martinez was replaced by backup Kelly Shoppach.
"It nicked [Martinez] up on one of his swings," Wedge said of the elbow. "We'll scan him [Thursday] and go from there."
Martinez left during the game and was unavailable for comment.
The combination of elbow and hamstring issues and declining performance at the plate might be enough to land Martinez on the DL for a while.
Over the last 21 games, Martinez is batting just .208 (16-for-77) with seven RBIs. His season average has plummeted from .356 on May 1 to .278, and the lack of power is an increasing concern for the Tribe's middle-of-the-order hitter.
In the last two days, general manager Mark Shapiro and Wedge have both said the Indians are a better team with Martinez in the lineup, even as the hamstring prevents him from playing every day and affects him at the plate.
"I feel like we don't have a combination of players who are going to give us a lot more than Victor's giving us," Shapiro said before Wednesday's game, "particularly in light of what he brings to our team."
If the elbow has affected Martinez's throwing from behind the plate, he hasn't shown it. He has caught 10 of 30 would-be basestealers this season.
Should Martinez land on the DL, the Indians would turn to either Wyatt Toregas or Yamid Haad at Triple-A Buffalo. Toregas has started 46 games behind the plate for the Bisons, while Haad has started 22. They are batting a combined .205 (42-for-205).
In addition to making a call on Martinez, the Indians are expected to use Thursday to decide if second baseman Josh Barfield will have to go on the DL with a left middle finger sprain.