DETROIT — Gratified and moved by his farewell Saturday at Comerica Park, Victor Martinez needed to let know followers he appreciated them — all of them.
And that features followers who had been essential of him, or followers that he had criticized throughout a few of the stormier moments of his seven seasons in Detroit.
“I need them to know they made me a greater participant and a greater individual,” Martinez mentioned after Saturday’s sport, the 1,973rd and closing one in all his profession within the huge leagues.
The farewell might hardly have been scripted any higher. At his request, Martinez began at first base on Saturday for the primary time since June 1, 2016. He got here to the plate within the backside of the primary inning and slapped a single into the shift on the best facet of the infield.
The shift — which has precipitated him untold grief and value him many hits in the course of the closing 4 seasons of his profession — could not cease him from legging out an infield single.
“I feel that was the proper at-bat to explain my profession,” he mentioned.
Ronny Rodriguez entered as a pinch-runner and, similar to that, Martinez’s sport and his profession have been over.
Followers gave one other standing ovation — there could be yet another after the sport — and the Kansas Metropolis Royals even stopped to applaud and tip their hats from the sphere. Fellow Venezuelans Salvador Perez and Alcides Escobar emerged from the Royals dugout to hug Martinez.
As soon as once more, Martinez was left overcome with emotion.
“It is undoubtedly one thing I’ll bear in mind all the time. I haven’t got sufficient phrases to thank everyone,” he mentioned.
Martinez was one of many sport’s greatest hitters in 2014, when he was the MVP runner-up and the Tigers gained the American League Central. He criticized Detroit followers for his or her negativity and unrealistic expectations.
Within the years to return, Martinez would face the brunt of that criticism, struggling in three of the ultimate 4 seasons of his profession as he made $18 million yearly.
Saturday confirmed there have been no onerous emotions, and Martinez needed followers to know the sensation was mutual.
“It’s a must to be man sufficient to confess it,” he mentioned. “A daily household involves the ballpark and spends some huge cash. They have the best to let you realize that you simply suck.”
Martinez will finish his profession with 2,153 hits, eighth-most amongst Venezuelans in baseball historical past, 423 doubles, 246 house runs and a batting common of .295. He drew 730 walks and had an on-base common of .359.
Martinez will flip 40 years outdated two days earlier than Christmas. Bodily, it was time to name it quits. However that did not make it any simpler to say goodbye to the sport he is performed all his life.
“I felt like the drive to the sphere took three hours in the present day,” Martinez mentioned. “I did not wish to get to the sphere. I knew at the present time was coming.”
The nice and cozy send-off might have eased a few of the sting. Martinez appeared actually humbled by the kindness of his teammates, followers and even the visiting Royals.
His teammates gave him cowboys boots and a Detroit Tigers using saddle earlier than the sport. After the sport, the teaching workers offered him with a sport ball and different items. Then Martinez made a brief speech within the clubhouse.
“He spoke to the fellows and it was heartfelt. I used to be trying on the gamers’ eyes. They have been fairly fired up,” mentioned supervisor Ron Gardenhire.
Martinez will watch the ultimate seven video games from the bench.
“He desires to look at the children play,” Gardenhire mentioned.
When he heads again house to Orlando, he’ll get to look at the Tigers on TV from his new Tigers-themed recliner — one other one of many items he acquired earlier than the sport. He instantly plopped himself into the chair with an enormous smile.
“This group of fellows have been unimaginable,” he mentioned of his teammates. “I thank them lots.”