The saga was equal parts perplexing, yet predictable. Each recurrence followed a similar timeline. Dodgers designated hitter J.D. Martinez would go through his pregame routine, which only got more extensive each time, only to feel a sudden cramping sensation in his left groin/adductor area after taking some swings. Within a couple of hours, he’d feel like he couldn’t walk. By the games’ end, he felt largely fine.
It sparked a series of late scratches from the lineup and has limited Martinez to just 11 of 26 games since the injury first cropped up on July 23. Now, he’ll spend more time on the shelf, the Dodgers opting to give Martinez at least a 10-day break while on the injured list.
The Dodgers’ official designation is groin tightness, yet multiple MRIs haven’t been able to narrow down what exactly the issue is and what is causing it.
“I can’t tell you, because I don’t know,” Martinez said this week. “That’s the hard part.”
The Dodgers are hoping for better health. Meanwhile, they keep winning
The string of MRIs revealed the issue is not tied to Martinez’s back, which sent him to the IL earlier this year and has given him trouble in years past. Despite that, Martinez received an epidural injection in hopes that would help stave off any potential discomfort.
“Walking around, doing everything doesn’t hurt,” Martinez said. “It’ll take like one swing in BP. It’s not even in the game.”
Martinez has ramped up his pregame preparation work in hopes that would rid him of the chronic tightness, even tweaking how he goes about taking batting practice. Until Tuesday, the Dodgers had remained hopeful Martinez could avoid time on the shelf, with the 36-year-old particularly motivated in what has been a successful contract year with an .856 OPS and 25 home runs in 390 plate appearances. The Dodgers have continued to roll out wins even without Martinez in the lineup, going 19-7 since his first time getting scratched.
But addressing it now, rather than kicking the can further down the road, may be the best way to ensure this doesn’t linger into October.
“If it gets to a situation where we have to do the IL, then we have to do the IL,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said over the weekend. “But we’re trying to do the best we can.”
This, on paper, could provide the most substantive run of plate appearances that prospect Michael Busch has had in the majors. The 25-year-old, who cracked Keith Law’s preseason top 100 list, was called up Tuesday for what will be his third stint with the big club, a stretch that has consisted of all of 51 plate appearances.
Busch, the subject of trade speculation last month, has torched Triple-A pitching, hitting .323/.432/.615 with 24 home runs in 424 plate appearances with Oklahoma City while earning starts at second base, third base, first base and even left field of late. But his bat will be his calling card, and a run of designated hitter at-bats could be coming if the Dodgers slot him into Martinez’s place.
(Photo: Jayne Kamin-Oncea / USA Today)