Victor Martinez was finished as a catcher. The microfracture surgery on his left knee said so. The Detroit Tigers all but officially said so. It became an accepted truth: Martinez, 34, would be strictly a designated hitter and occasional first baseman during the last two seasons of his contract with the Tigers.
That changed Friday at Citi Field, when Martinez put on shin guards in a game at any level for the first time since Aug. 4, 2011. Martinez has made four All-Star teams as a catcher. He's a 10-year veteran, but this felt like his major league debut.
"It was that special," he would say later.
Respected umpire Jim Joyce was working the plate that night, and Martinez kept turning to him for reassurance.
"Every three innings, I was asking how I was doing," Martinez recalled Monday. "He kept telling me I was doing great. He was seeing every pitch. That's something I want to make sure, that I give a good look to the umpire. Jim's a guy who has been (in baseball) for a long, long...