Victor Martinez on track to start season on time

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News
Tigers' Victor Martinez exits the batting cages on Monday in Lakeland.

Lakeland, Fla. — Manager Brad Ausmus' fears regarding Victor Martinez and his well-meaning rambunctiousness were well-placed.

Ausmus felt it was best to keep Martinez, recovering from arthroscopic surgery, away from spring training until he was capable of doing more baseball-related activities.

"Victor isn't one to sit on his hands," Ausmus said. "He's a guy who hits in the cage for two hours."

Martinez is in camp now and he took swings off the tee on Monday. It was a good thing he was being monitored.

"Yesterday, I had 25 swings from each side, and I felt great," Martinez said. "But I was supervised by the trainer (Doug Teeter). If he wasn't there, I probably would have taken 50."

Martinez spoke to the media for the first time Tuesday morning, three weeks to the day that Dr. James Andrews did a clean-up procedure on his left knee — the same knee that was surgically repaired in 2012 and cost him that entire season.

"Everything is looking like we are on track," he said. "Let's hope it stays nice and smooth."

The timetable Andrews set was four to six weeks. If that holds, he could start taking live batting practice with a week or more left in spring training. That is important to Martinez.

"In my whole career I've always gotten 50 to 70 at-bats (in the spring)," he said. "I am the kind of guy, I need a lot of repetition to get me going. We'll see. Maybe playing every day for two weeks gets me to that point."

Martinez said the meniscus gave out on him while he was having a normally harmless catch with his brother on the street in front of his house in Orlando. He said he went to plant his left foot, heard an all-too-familiar popping sound and fell to the ground.

"I was really scared, I am not going to lie," he said. "I felt that pop in my knee and the first thing that came to my head was that thing I had two years ago. I had a lot of things going on in my head, a lot of thinking.

"What I went through the first time (2012) was not really fun. I was just praying it wasn't anything big. Thank God it wasn't. They didn't repair anything, just cleaned it up."

Martinez joked that he might stop working out in the offseason altogether and "show up the next three or four years 20 or 30 pounds overweight — but healthy."

"I was like, why?" he said of his reaction when the injury occurred. "If I'd been lazy, OK, whatever. But I was just working to get myself in shape to help the team win…You work really hard in the offseason because you want to play 162-plus games. That's the only way you can be durable and perform the way you need to perform."

Martinez said that this injury shouldn't preclude him from playing first base this season, when needed.

"I told them I would do anything to help the team, whatever they need me to do," he said. "This doesn't mean I won't be able to do anything in the field again."

Mostly, he's just glad he's going to be in the middle of things this year.

"I want to be healthy and be part of this great ride," he said. "Because this is going to be a great ride this year."

Chris McCosky on Twitter @cmccosky