7/2/2014 5:05 P.M. ET
In midst of All-Star push, V-Mart sits out finale
By Jason Beck and Matt Slovin / MLB.com
DETROIT -- Side soreness sidelined Victor Martinez for the third straight game on Wednesday.
Tigers manager Brad Ausmus has opted to be cautious with the slugger. Torii Hunter was in the lineup as the designated hitter in the finale vs. the A's for the first time in his Tigers career. J.D. Martinez, who was named Detroit's Player of the Month for June, batted cleanup and played right field.
"He tried to talk his way in," Ausmus said of Victor Martinez following Tuesday's game. "I just felt like we've got to give it a little more time. It's in an area on his side that if it becomes serious, it could be a long-term thing."
Ausmus said Wednesday that he hopes to have Martinez back for Thursday's series opener with Tampa Bay.
Martinez, who hadn't missed a game this season before sitting out Monday, entered the week third in voting for designated hitters in the latest American League All-Star ballot update. He was trailing second-place David Ortiz by just 120,000 votes.
Fans can cast their votes for starters at MLB.com -- online or on a mobile device -- using the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Experian until Thursday at 11:59 p.m. ET. The 2014 All-Star Game will be played at Target Field on Tuesday, July 15 on FOX.
Ausmus reflects on first half-season as skipper
DETROIT -- Wednesday's game was the 81st for the Tigers, marking the season's official halfway point.
Manager Brad Ausmus, in his first season at the helm, reflected before the game on a whirlwind first three months, saying the year is going faster than an average season felt as a player.
"We've had a little bit of a roller coaster in the first half," Ausmus said. "Extreme up, extreme down. I'm hoping we're climbing up again."
Detroit began the season with a 27-12 mark before winning only nine out of its next 29 games. Since that rough stretch, the Tigers have reclaimed the American League Central lead over the Royals by winning 11 of their last 13, capped by Wednesday's sweep of the A's.
Through 81 games, Detroit is 47-34, good for second best in the AL.
Ausmus reasoned that managing is more mentally exhausting than his playing days were, which took a physical toll. To help him get through the ups and downs of the season's first half, Ausmus, one of baseball's youngest managers, has relied on a couple of long-time skippers.
Jim Leyland, who managed the Tigers for eight seasons through last year, has been "outstanding," according to Ausmus.
"When you manage as long as he has, he brings a lot of levity to situations," Ausmus said. "I don't think I'm overly emotional ... but it's good to have an experienced voice with levity remind you to stay the course."
Ausmus also has a former manager as his bench coach, Gene Lamont. He noted that Lamont's personality, which he said is reminiscent of Leyland's, has been a huge asset.
"It's almost like I have a carbon copy of Jim. Geno's been huge to have around."
J.D. Martinez displaying formidable power stroke
DETROIT -- Victor isn't the only Martinez on the Tigers with 20 home runs by the All-Star break. J.D. Martinez just split his total between Detroit and Triple-A Toledo.
When Martinez homered off Oakland's Brad Mills Tuesday night, it was his 10th home run since the Tigers called him up in late April. The outfielder was summoned after hitting 10 homers in just 17 games for the Mud Hens.
Martinez is the first player since Matt Joyce in 2008 to post double-digit homers at both stops in the same season. Unlike Joyce, who hit nine homers in Detroit by the All-Star break, Martinez got to double digits at both stops by the midway point.
Just two other players have had double digits at both places since the Mud Hens moved to downtown Toledo in 2002. Carlos Pena did it in 2005, a year after Marcus Thames pulled off the double-double.
Add the two levels together, and Martinez is averaging a home run every 10.5 at-bats. The Major League leader in home run rate, White Sox slugger Jose Abreu, entered Wednesday averaging a long ball every 10.73 at-bats.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. Matt Slovin is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.