He would sit in front of his locker and talk softly with one or more of the Tigers players. All of them. The elders, the rookies, they seemed always to stop by, to check in, to seek their moment with that quiet, regal man whose face appeared never to change expression.

Victor Martinez was the Tigers clubhouse's leader during a playoff-bound 2011 season.

But now an All-Star catcheris gone (perhaps for the season after January's knee injury). And not only is he absent from a lineup that could use his .300-hitting bat and wily ways against opposing pitchers.

He is gone from the Tigers culture. And he is missed.