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."
Injuries doing little to slow down Miggy
NEW YORK -- Miguel Cabrera has put together another spectacular season. Making it even more remarkable is that it's come with a significant amount of nagging injuries.
"He's not OK," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. "He's been playing through some difficulty, but playable, and we'll see how it plays out."
The Tigers' third baseman has been dealing with a abdominal wall strain near his hip flexor for a month, and he is also dealing with a sore knee and bruised shin after he fouled two balls off his leg while facing Mariano Rivera at Yankee Stadium back on Aug. 9.
Through it all, Cabrera hasn't slowed at the plate. He entered Friday's game against the Mets hitting .354 with 40 home runs and 123 RBIs. Cabrera has a .447 on-base percentage. In his first two at-bats against Mets starter Daisuke Matsuzaka, he hit a single and a three-run shot, bringing his homer total to 41 and his RBI total to 126.
Despite the pain and soreness he's battling, his production has remained unmatched.
"For the most part, I don't think it bothers him hitting," Leyland said. "Evidently he can use the lower half to hit."
Instead, Leyland said, the pains take their toll when Cabrera's in the field. Making quick moves to field a ball or having to run in to make a play at third are when the injuries can have the bigger effect.
But with designated hitter Victor Martinez -- who started behind the plate in Friday's game -- hitting so well, Cabrera's not likely to see much time there through the end of the season. Perhaps if Martinez needed a day off, then Leyland said Cabrera could DH, but that would probably be the only scenario for Leyland to do that.
Leyland also said he'll keep it "in-house" as to whether or not he'd give Cabrera a day off, but he would probably speak to the medical staff to see if it's necessary.
But there's no question Cabrera's fighting through some significant pain.
"He's not playing real comfortable right now," Leyland said. "We know that."
Tigers cautious after Avila experiences headache
NEW YORK -- Tigers catcher Alex Avila played in a rehab game on Thursday for Triple-A Toledo, but the night didn't go as Detroit would've hoped.
Avila, who's been on the disabled list since Aug. 11 with delayed concussive symptoms, caught three innings and went 0-for-2 with a walk at the plate. But he had to leave the game after experiencing a headache, Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.
Leyland also said Avila didn't have any symptoms on Friday.
"You just take it slow for a day and then see how it plays out, and we'll get him back into action," Leyland said.
Leyland said Avila could DH on Saturday if he doesn't have any lingering symptoms.
Before going on the DL, Avila was hitting .198 with nine home runs and 36 RBIs this season.
The Tigers want to get Avila back in the lineup, but they also want to make sure he's fine physically and doesn't experience more symptoms.
"We're not going to mess with something like that," Leyland said.
Scherzer appreciates Harvey's accomplishments
NEW YORK -- Just more than a month ago, Max Scherzer started for the American League in the All-Star Game at Citi Field. Starting for the National League was Mets phenom Matt Harvey. On Saturday, they'll have the chance to pitch against each other once again.
"It is fun, because you're facing the best," Scherzer said. "You don't measure yourself against the worst -- you measure yourself against the best. Obviously he's one of the best in the NL right now. It's just always fun to compete against guys of that caliber."
Scherzer has put together a tremendous season for the Tigers. The right-hander is 18-1 with a 2.82 ERA. Meanwhile, Harvey has a 9-4 record and 2.25 ERA.
Although Scherzer hasn't seen too much of Harvey in person, he's been impressed by what Harvey's been able to accomplish.
"Really, everything he's been able to do. You can't pinpoint one thing he's done well. He's done everything well," Scherzer said. "He strikes guys out, doesn't walk guys, pitches deep into the games."
Detroit right fielder Torii Hunter said he remembers seeing how good Harvey was when the Tigers faced him during Spring Training. He heard all the talk about Harvey being the former first-round pick, and having to step into the batter's box against Harvey was as tough as Hunter heard it would be.
"In my first at-bat, he blew my bat up," Hunter said. "I was like, 'This guy's got good stuff, boys.' He's as good as advertised."
Scherzer said he doesn't focus too much on how well someone like Harvey is pitching.
"You see who's at the top. You always want to be at the top," Scherzer said. "That's just everybody's competitive nature. For me, you can't get caught up in other people's stuff. The only thing I can control is how good my pitches are and what I can do to pitch better."
• In his first appearance since being demoted on Wednesday, left-handed reliever Phil Coke pitched a scoreless inning for Triple-A Toledo on Thursday against the Louisville Bats. He allowed one hit, and also had one strikeout. Coke was 0-5 with a 5.00 ERA over 43 appearances with the Tigers.
Chris Iseman is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.