The Tigers will have a tough time defending their AL Central crown without Victor Martinez. (Mark Duncan/Associated Press)

Led by the Cy Young award-winning arm of Justin Verlander, the 2011 Detroit Tigers won their first division title since 1987 and advanced to the American League Championship Series.

But repeating that performance just got a little more difficult.

On Tuesday the Tigers announced designated hitter Victor Martinez tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee last week while training in his native Venezuela. He will likely miss the entire 2012 season.

In a Tuesday afternoon press conference, Tigers general manager called the news “a shot in the gut.”

Martinez hit .330 with 12 home runs and 103 RBIs in 145 games last season — his first in Detroit. V-Mart is in the second year of a four-year, $50 million contract.

The 33-year-old underwent an MRI at the Watson Clinic in Lakeland, Fla., on Monday and will be re-evaluated by Dr. Richard Stedman next week.

With Martinez out of the equation, the Tigers — who made no major moves during the offseason — will likely need to add a bat to fortify their lineup.