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Detroit – Slowly but surely, as manager Brad Ausmus said before the game Thursday, the Tigers are mending.

Designated hitter Victor Martinez, who has been away from the team since May 13, was scheduled to take live batting practice in Lakeland Thursday and, if there were no setbacks, Friday. He is expected to be back in Detroit when the team returns to Comerica Park Tuesday.

"Victor's physical therapist said he's been running extremely well, as well as he's seen him run," Ausmus said. "Based on Victor's feedback, he says Victor feels as good as he has moving and running."

Martinez's surgically-repaired left knee weakened and he was placed on the DL May 19.

He just started doing baseball activities last week and until Thursday was hitting off a tee.

The Tigers could activate reliever Bruce Rondon, who's been out all season with biceps tendinitis, before the game in Chicago Friday.

Catcher Alex Avila, out with a left knee injury since May 8, will accompany the Tigers to Chicago. Ausmus said Avila could take batting practice this weekend.

Pitcher Justin Verlander, out all season with a triceps strain, will make what is expected to be his final rehab start in Toledo Saturday. If all goes well, he could be back in the rotation next week.

"I am a little more at ease with his health," said Ausmus, who expects Verlander to throw 85 to 90 pitches Saturday. "I feel like his health has moved in the right direction. Now it's about refining his pitching and getting the ups and downs in from multiple innings."

The Tigers will also get outfielder Rajai Davis back off paternity leave Friday.

Twitter @cmccosky

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