HOUSTON -- Detroit manager Jim Leyland said he will use designated hitter Victor Martinez strictly as a pinch-hitter when the Tigers play under National League rules on Tuesday and Wednesday at Washington with no DH for the first time this year.
Martinez appeared in 28 of Detroit's first 29 games, starting 27 as the designated hitter and one at first base.
"He'll be coming off the bench to pinch-hit," Leyland said. "If you have a freak game, lopsided one way or the other, you might get Prince [Fielder] out of there after a few innings and play [Martinez] at first.
"That's the way it is. I don't know what else I can do. I can catch him, but I don't think that [will happen]."
Martinez, 34, spent most of his career in Cleveland and Boston as a catcher.
"We're lucky, because we have only two [in Washington] and two in Pittsburgh [May 29 and 30]," Leyland said.
The Tigers play Interleague games against Philadelphia and Washington at home at the end of July, and travel to New York to take on the Mets in August and end the season in Miami.
"Who knows, then you might do something," Leyland said of Martinez's status. "I don't want to lose him [in the starting lineup]. I can't do anything about it. I can't create a new rule."
Would he use Martinez to catch later in the season?
"At some point something could happen," Leyland said.
Martinez drove in four runs Saturday night with a double and home run in the 17-2 rout of the Astros. After an extremely slow start this season, he raised his average to .221.
Leyland did like the idea that with Martinez not starting, that will give him three switch-hitters on the bench, including infielder Ramon Santiago and catcher Brayan Pena.
Detroit will be using the designated hitter for home games against National League teams, but the pitchers must bat in NL ballparks.
Gene Duffey is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.