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Victor Martinez's return from injury depends on severity of knee surgery

At minimum, Martinez will miss nearly all of spring training.

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Victor Martinez will undergo surgery for a torn meniscus in his left knee with Dr. James Andrews next Tuesday, according to a report released by the team today. Martinez's injured knee is the same one that he spent all of 2012 rehabbing, when he tore his left ACL during another offseason workout. This will be Martinez's third major surgery on his left knee in four years, after requiring two procedures when he tore his ACL in 2012.

Martinez's injury comes at the worst possible time during the offseason, as it will likely cut into the regular season. He is all but assured to miss all of spring training, and will probably take some time to get his timing back. Martinez started slow in 2013 after missing all of the 2012 season, hitting .258/.314/.380 in the first half. The extent of Martinez's current knee injury is still up in the air. While the team has revealed that Martinez will undergo surgery next week, no one is sure what type of surgery will be performed.

Before we start explaining his potential timetable for recovery, let's back up and address what Martinez actually did. The meniscus is a semi-circular piece of cartilage that sits atop the tibia (shin bone) within the knee joint. There are two menisci within each knee, and their purpose is to cushion the joint and prevent the two bones in the joint from rubbing together.

There are two types of surgery to address a meniscus tear. The first, an arthroscopic meniscectomy, just involves removing the damaged portion of the tissue. This procedure, commonly referred to as a "knee scope" is relatively quick and the least invasive type of surgery possible. Depending on the extent of the tissue damage, Martinez could take four to six weeks to rehab his knee before returning to action. If he has a meniscectomy, he could potentially be ready for Opening Day.

The other type of surgery is a meniscus repair. This procedure is a bit more involved, and consists of repairing the damaged meniscus tissue. In order to preserve the repaired tissue, the patient is often instructed to bear no weight through that leg for a period of six weeks. While some rehab is possible during this time period, the full timetable for recovery is much longer. A meniscus repair would likely require at least 12 weeks, and Martinez would surely begin the season on the disabled list.

In short, the meniscus is the cartilage of the knee, and Martinez tore part of it. While many meniscus tears can be rehabbed conservatively, few people are able to play professional sports at a high level afterward. Surgery to remove or replace the meniscus involves a lengthier rehab, but will likely give Martinez a better chance at maintaining his high level of performance over the life of his contract.