KANSAS CITY -- Victor Martinez understands the sense of panic coming from Tigers fans at the sight of him crumpled on the grass at Kauffman Stadium and clutching his left knee on Saturday night. Honestly, he was probably nervous, too.
That sense dissipated by the time he made it to the training room in the visitors' clubhouse. And what was feared to have been the first major injury of the Tigers' run atop the American League Central looks more like a minor mishap.
Martinez is day to day with a sprained left knee, and neither he nor the Tigers are ruling out the possibility that he'll play on Sunday afternoon, though it seems unlikely. Still, one game off will be a lot less than some feared when he sustained the injury trying to score in the eighth inning.
"A lot better than went I went down," Martinez said to sum up how he was feeling. "I felt a sharp pain in my knee. On the way up here [to the clubhouse], I felt the pain go away. I just iced it, and we'll see how it feels [Sunday]."
Martinez will be evaluated further on Sunday, the Tigers said, but the mood right now is rather upbeat.
"Everything looks pretty good," Martinez said, "so we'll see how it feels tomorrow."
Martinez was thrown out at home plate on a fielder's choice. The throw easily beat him home, and his left knee seemed to give way as he tried to stop. He crumbled to the ground in pain, clutching the knee, as head athletic trainer Kevin Rand and manager Jim Leyland came out.
Martinez got up, but limped off the field with help from Rand and Leyland.
Martinez has been a key difference in the Tigers' offense this year, providing a veteran presence behind Miguel Cabrera in the batting order. He singled in two of Detroit's four runs Saturday, giving him 64 RBIs on the year to go with a .323 batting average.
Leyland sounded uncertain going into the game whether he would catch Alex Avila all three games against the Royals, but that now sounds highly likely.
The Tigers would not have an obvious backup catcher if they needed to add one. The only other catcher on the 40-man roster, Omir Santos, is on the disabled list at Triple-A Toledo, where he hasn't played since July 4. Max St. Pierre is handling catching duties for the Mud Hens along with Jeff Kunkel.
For now, that doesn't look like it'll be necessary.
"I feel sure that he's fine," Leyland said. "I'm not saying he's going to play [Sunday], but I don't think it's anything."