Slight chance V-Mart won't be ready for opener

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News
Victor Martinez

Lakeland, Fla. — Manager Brad Ausmus, coaching the split-squad team playing the Braves in Disney, told reporters designated hitter Victor Martinez might begin swinging the bat again Monday.

He also said it was possible Martinez won't be ready to start on Opening Day.

“Nothing new,” he said, when asked to update Martinez’s condition. “We'll see how he is tomorrow. There's a possibility he may swing a bat tomorrow, soft toss, but we've got to wait and see.”

Martinez is recovering from a mild strain of his left hamstring. He was essentially given the weekend off from baseball activities — though he has been getting treatment. When asked if there was any possibility Martinez wouldn’t be ready for Opening Day, Ausmus first responded with sarcasm.

“Is there any possibility? Of course there is,” he said. “There's a possibility that everyone in camp might not be ready. But I wouldn't say it's trending that way.”

Fact is, there is a protocol involved in recovering from any kind of hamstring injury, a progression that he has to go through.

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“He has to take soft toss because that's kind of the steps you take when you have an injury,” Ausmus said. “You don't want him going out there swinging full bore having not tested the hamstring in a milder condition.”

Martinez had 28 at-bats before the injury. Typically, the Tigers would like for him to get at least 50 spring training at-bats. There are 12 games left after Sunday, plus, if necessary, he could get at-bats in minor league games.

Also, the Tigers open the season against the National League Marlins in Miami — no designated hitter. Ausmus was hoping to play Martinez at first base in interleague games, but no designated hitter will be needed until the home opener April 8.

It would appear that barring any other setback, there is ample time for Martinez to be ready for the home opener.

Twitter @cmccosky