Arizona Diamondbacks: Martinez ‘era’ off to rough start

Starter Zack Greinke, along with outfielder J. D. Martinez, both experienced difficult times Wednesday night in Cincinnati. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Starter Zack Greinke, along with outfielder J. D. Martinez, both experienced difficult times Wednesday night in Cincinnati. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

The Arizona Diamondbacks await a definite medical answer to an injury sustained by J. D. Martinez.

This one started the way general manager Mike Hazen and field manager Torey Lovullo of the Arizona Diamondbacks anticipate for the final 10 weeks of the season.

After acquiring outfielder J. D. Martinez and placing his powerful, right-handed bat in the middle of the line-up, Lovullo wrote in ace Zack Greinke as his starter Wednesday night and waited for events to unfold. The scenario was clearly in place for the dominos to fall in their proper place.

The proceedings Wednesday night, with Martinez in his initial game wearing Sedona Red and Greinke, in the middle of a strong, come-back season, would begin the journey through a darken and uneasy road to the light of post-season play. What did transpire could have an opposite effect and foreshadow the Arizona fortunes the rest of the way.

Both Greinke and Martinez experienced early exits and the Diamondbacks ended up losing, 4-3 to the Cincinnati Reds in 11 innings. The way both left the game was distributing.

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While it is likely that Greinke will recover from the malady of a five-inning effort in which he threw 104 pitches and allowed three runs in that stretch, and the Reds’ game plan suggested to wait him out, the prospect for Martinez appeared more troubling.

Batting against Cincinnati starter Tim Adleman in the fourth inning, Martinez was hit on the side of his left hand and immediately dropped his bat in pain. While examined by trainer Ken Crenshaw, Martinez exhibited shaking and instability in his hand. Replaced in the line-up at that point, X-rays on his hand were negative and the initial diagnosis was a contusion in his hand.

From the Diamondbacks perspective, the scenario did not look good. If his hand is terribly bruised, the Diamondbacks will have received two at-bats from Martinez, both strikes out, and his return would not be for a few weeks. That would have less than two months left in the season, and it’s possible the Diamondbacks season or post-season fate could be on the bubble by that time.

At this point, the Diamondbacks have lost nine of the past 11games, and, with the loss in Cincinnati, fell into third place in the National League Western Division. Still, they maintain a strong wild card positon with the Colorado Rockies. Should the season end today, the Rockies would host the Diamondbacks in the NL wild card game.

For now, the Greinke-Martinez development is probably less ominous than first appeared. Greinke will likely shake off the bump in the road he experienced in Cincinnati Wednesday and prepare for his next start. That would be this Monday night in Chase Field against Atlanta, and with his usual fervent preparation.

After Wednesday’s game, Lovullo told that Greinke, despite a high pitch count, accomplished a pitcher’s essential task. That would be keeping his team in a given game.

"“It was a hot day, and I felt like he was emptying his tank,” he said of Greinke. “He did a great job holding them down and making pitches and eliminating big innings, and he gave us a chance to win. That’s what the starting pitchers are supposed to do. That’s what I told him.”"

The Martinez situation appears more serious. At the best, the newly-acquired outfielder from the Detroit Tigers would be out a few days. At the worst, the Diamondbacks could, with additional X-rays, discover a broken bone in his left hand and their dreams for post-season could be also be broken. Should Martinez be lost for a considerable period of time, Lovullo would revert back to using Daniel Descalso and Chris Herrmann in left and David Peralta, who started Wednesday’s game in left to accommodate Martinez’s wish to play right field, returns to right.

The turn-around time for a Martinez’s definitive medical report is short. The Diamondbacks are right back at Great American Ball Park for the final game of this series at 12:30 (EDT) time, and then a direct flight back to Phoenix.

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That’s when they open a six-game home stand Friday night and that starts with the Washington Nationals. By the time they face Nats’ starter Max Scherzer in the opener Friday night, they should have a good idea on the immediate future of Martinez.