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Tigers hope to treat Martinez's soreness while he keeps playing

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News
Victor Martinez

Detroit – The Tigers have a plan for Victor Martinez and his balky left knee, but, as you might imagine, manager Brad Ausmus wasn't going to share the specifics.

"There is a plan in place," Ausmus assured. "Hopefully it works, but sometimes it's an imperfect science dealing with medical issues."

The Tigers are hoping to treat Martinez's soreness while allowing him to continue playing -- although, he may be restricted to batting right-handed only. The left leg is load-bearing when he bats left-handed and that's been problematic for him.

"We have to be careful with Victor, don't get me wrong," Ausmus said. "Despite the one swing (Sunday), from the right side he says he feels good. He doesn't always look good after he swings, when he starts moving to first.

"But we are trying to get this fixed, get it healed, and hopefully still have the ability to play him. But if it doesn't work, we will cross that bridge when we get to it."

Martinez had an MRI on the knee last week and it was determined the soreness was not in area of the surgery, not in the meniscus. The soreness is more at the top of the knee.

"Obviously we're trying to protect Victor as well as we possibly can," said head athletic trainer Kevin Rand. "We're doing everything we can to make him feel better. If it doesn't work, at some point, you'd have to go to him to say it.

"But obviously he's a tough kid and he wants to play. As long as we protect him, we'll try to do the best we can."

Ausmus said putting him on disabled list is among the options they've discussed.

"He wants to play, no question, which is good," Ausmus said. "If I feel he can hit with no risk of further damage, I am going to let him play.

"There may just be a time where you say that's enough. This isn't working. It's not getting better, and you're playing. If we get to that point, we'll cross that bridge, and deal with it."

Verlander has MRI

Justin Verlander had an MRI last Thursday, the day after he threw a 35-pitch bullpen and 45-pitch simulated game in Pittsburgh. The MRI confirmed the initial diagnosis – right triceps strain.

"He's in a holding pattern right now until we get him asymptomatic," Rand said. "He threw a sim game and had some soreness after that, a little more soreness than we wanted to see. Basically we're treating it right now until we get him back asymptomatic and then he'll start throwing again."

Rand was asked why they held off on the MRI.

"We waited until we felt we needed to," he said. "It just showed the original diagnosis."

The fact that the soreness has lingered as long as it has, since late in March, triggered the MRI.

"When he wasn't able to make a step that we wanted, that's when we decided to do diagnostic testing at that point because it gave us a little bit more concern," Rand said. "But it turned out it was everything as we had expected from the beginning."

Injury updates

* Right-hand reliever Bruce Rondon has thrown three consecutive days and is scheduled to throw a bullpen session Tuesday.

"Rondon has stretched out to 150 feet," Rand said. "He's progressed obviously from where he had the bicepital tendinitis in spring training. Now he's back to throwing, back to stretching out, he's throwing long toss and he's just ready to make the phase into throwing off the mound."

* Closer Joe Nathan (right elbow flexor strain) threw a bullpen before the game Monday. Depending on how his arm responds Tuesday, the Tigers will decide whether to send him on a rehab assignment or set up a simulated game. He is eligible to come off the DL on Wednesday.

* Outfielder Steven Moya (plantar fasciitis) has begun a rehab assignment:

"Moya's doing a rehab rotation assignment down in Lakeland," Rand said. "Everything's going well with him."

Chris McCosky on Twitter: @cmccosky