|Martinez to retire as Tigers host Royals|
Victor Martinez's playing career will come to an end on Saturday when the Detroit Tigers face the Kansas City Royals.
He will be honored in a pregame ceremony at Comerica Park and serve as the designated hitter. He will not play the remainder of the season.
Martinez, 39, has been in the majors since 2002. He is a career .295 hitter and has hit 246 home runs. He's been with the Tigers organization since 2011, though he missed the 2012 season with a knee injury.
"I think that's just me thanking the Detroit Tigers fans and everybody here," he told the Detroit News. "To play the last game of my career here, it's just one of the ways to thank everybody. I think that would be fair for everybody."
Manager Ron Gardenhire believes it's a fitting way for Martinez to head into retirement.
"He's just a special guy who has had a great career," Gardenhire said. "Not just a good career, a great career. I've watched him from both sides, from the visitors' dugout and from the home dugout. I'm pretty lucky."
Martinez will be facing a pitcher who has become a Tigers' nemesis, Jakob Junis.
The Royals right-hander has recorded half of his eight victories against his team's American League Central Division rival. Junis has posting a 1.74 ERA while striking out 25 batters in 31 innings in those four starts. He's held Tigers batters to a .193 average.
Subtract those performances and Junis is 4-12 with a 5.04 ERA in his other starts. He'll try to torment the Tigers once again in the third game of the four-game series.
In his last start against them on Aug. 28, Junis collected the first complete-game victory of his career. He struck out seven and didn't issue a walk in the 6-2 triumph.
Junis (8-12, 4.42 ERA) had his shortest outing of the season on Sunday, giving up four runs on eight hits in three innings against Minnesota.
"I had been keeping the ball down and staying ahead of hitters," Junis told MLB.com afterward. "(Sunday), I was behind hitters and not keeping the ball down. Wasn't in the zone consistently."
The Tigers haven't seen that side of him. He's 6-1 with a 3.14 ERA in seven career starts. Junis doesn't have more than two victories against any other team.
Detroit's top hitter this season, right fielder Nicholas Castellanos, has gone hitless in 14 career at-bats facing Junis.
The Tigers will counter with veteran right-hander Jordan Zimmermann (7-8, 4.41 ERA). He, too, struggled in his last outing on Monday. Zimmermann surrendered five runs in seven hits in 3 2/3 innings against Minnesota. He's been tagged for seven homers in his last four outings.
"He was really upset," Gardenhire said afterward. "Just trying to figure out what was going on. Part of it is we haven't been scoring runs. He's healthy and he's been throwing the ball well. He's given us a chance most night. Just the last couple have been rough."
Zimmermann has traditionally pitched well against the Royals. In eight career appearances, he's 4-1 with a 2.08 ERA.
The teams have split the first two games of the series.