NEW YORK -- Victor Martinez's catcher's mitt sat on the chair in front of his locker in the visitors' clubhouse at Citi Field. For the first time since 2011, Martinez broke it out to use in a game.
Normally the Tigers' designated hitter, Martinez was back behind the plate for Detroit's series opener against the Mets on Friday. Manager Jim Leyland wanted to keep Martinez's bat in the lineup in the National League ballpark.
"Just call the game, catch the ball and I think he'll do fine," Leyland said.
Martinez is hitting .285 with 10 home runs and 68 RBIs. In his last 56 games, the 34-year-old is hitting .353 with five home runs, 35 RBIs and 17 doubles. His catcher's mitt, though, hadn't been getting much use.
It's been over two years since he's caught in a game, with the last time coming on Aug. 4, 2011.
Martinez suffered a knee injury shortly after that game, and he couldn't squat to catch, forcing him to DH through the end of the season. Then Martinez had to undergo surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament and missed all of last season.
He's played first base at times this season, but now he's finally getting back to his old position.
"I don't know the best way to explain it, but I'm definitely excited. It's been a while," Martinez said. "I really wanted to get another try after surgery. Before surgery, I wasn't able to squat a whole lot. Now I'm able to do all the stuff I used to do before."
Tigers right fielder Torii Hunter has the locker adjacent to Martinez's in the Citi Field visitors' clubhouse, and he overheard Martinez talking about getting back behind the plate and said, "He's excited to catch again."
"I've been waiting for that throw from right field," Martinez said. "They'll have to run over me."
Martinez said he doesn't know if he'll catch again this series.
"We'll see how it goes tonight," Martinez said. "For now, just the one game."
Chris Iseman is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less