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Victor Martinez may miss most of season after all

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A few weeks ago, there was optimism about the return of Tigers DH Victor Martinez. Tigers owner Mike Ilitch even told Drew Sharp of the Free Press that Martinez could be back by the middle of August. (And I wrote a hopeful column for the News).

Martinez and the Tigers learned today that the DH may not return any earlier than mid-September.

Chris Iott of MLive reports:

Head athletic trainer Kevin Rand said Thursday that the "best-case scenario" for Martinez would be a return to the Tigers in mid- to late September.

Tigers manager Jim Leyland said the reviews on Martinez's knee were positive but that his feelings about a potential return have remained unchanged.

Tom Gage of the News quotes Rand:

"(A)t this point, his single-leg strength on that side isn't where it needs to be for him to begin running. So for July, he'll go through a strengthening program. If all goes well and the strength of that leg is equal to the right side, he would begin a running progression for the month of August."

Rand added that the Tigers are in no rush to push Martinez, as he is too valuable to take any risks on. (So that should relieve a few people from recent comments sections, I hope.)

As I referred to earlier, the Tigers had to be in a bit of a holding pattern. Not knowing if they'd get Martinez back while knowing they have problems at DH, corner outfield and possibly second base, an earlier return of Martinez could affect their plans. Now that they know he will be with the team for no more than a few weeks, they can think about fixing problems sooner rather than later.

It's a shame that Martinez won't be back, but it's truly the best move not to push him before he's ready.