Victor Martinez Working His Way Back Into Tigers Lineup

 It is nearly a year now since Victor Martinez destroyed his left knee during an off-season workout near his Orlando, Florida home. The Tigers switch-hitter extraordinaire managed to tear the anterior cruciate ligament and damage the medial and lateral meniscus during a side-stride drill last January 13.

The former Cleveland Indian underwent micro fracture surgery, in the hope that he would be back on the field in time for a Tigers pennant drive.  Martinez, however, missed not only the entire regular season, but the Tigers run to the 2012 World Series as well. While his teammates hoisted flags and celebratory booze, Victor toiled through a slow, steady rehabilitation program, designed to heal a left knee that had been shredded.

Now, 31 days before the Tigers pitchers and catchers report to spring training, and with nearly three months until Opening Day, the combo DH-catcher-first baseman works out most days near Orlando under supervision of his therapist Doug Allen.

Lynn Henning of the Detroit News got these details from Tigers head athletic trainer Kevin Rand on Thursday.  "He's doing real, real well. He's been hitting for a bit more than a month, from soft-toss swings to regular swings, feeling real well, and with no issues."  Rand continued, "He's been doing a running progression that's up to 20 minutes, again, without any issues. And he will initiate a base running program (today)."

Martinez, now 34 (and never a swift runner), will drive to Lakeland today for some initial base running drills overseen by the Tigers staff and trainers. He will shift into a regular batting-practice routine in early February.

Tigers hitting coach Lloyd McClendon stressed however that the team would continue to be patient with the man they hope will provide the bat that puts them over the top in pursuit of a World Championship. "We'll have to monitor this day by day," said McClendon. “Kevin will be supervising on the physical side. We don't want any setbacks. Dave (Dombrowski, Tigers front-office chief) has made it clear that we're probably not going to throw him into the fire immediately.”

The Venezuelan native has been a four-time All-Star, and sports a career .303 batting average and .840 OPS.  He is entering the final year of a 3-year, $50-million dollar contract.

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