DETROIT — J.D. Martinez’s rehab is going well. So well, in fact, that he could rejoin the team when they travel to Tampa for a three-game series against the Rays April 18-20. Batting practice is a possibility, though manager Brad Ausmus suspects it’ll just be a general presence to be around the team unless Martinez’s recovery has progressed that far.
Currently, Martinez is set to face live pitching for the first time on Wednesday. There’s no timetable set for his return, but that’s not surprising, and Ausmus said that at this point Martinez is a little ahead of schedule in his recovery.
Martinez is recovering from a Lisfranc sprain in his right foot that has had him sidelined since March 24. The team anticipated he’d be out three to four weeks, but given the nature of the injury, it wouldn’t be unexpected if he was out for a longer time.
Martinez has made quick progress in the last week, and if he continues along his current rehab path, it’s possible he could rejoin the active roster in the final week of April.
The trickiest portion of his recovery is yet to come, though. Martinez has thrown from flat ground and handled dry swings, but he hasn’t dealt with running or making sharp turns, which will be crucial in gauging his progress.
Anthony Gose has incorporated a curveball into his pitching
The Gose For Pitcher experiment seems to be going well so far. Ausmus said that Gose is expected to face hitters for the first time since beginning his transition from position player to pitching.
Gose is still in Lakeland at extended spring training. Ausmus added that while Gose is including pitching in his training, he is still playing center field (and designated hitter, mainly for the at-bats), as per the agreement.
“And then (he is) also throwing bullpens, progressing bullpens with fastballs,” Ausmus said. “Then he threw breaking balls, which by the way, the report on the curveball, is very good.”
If Gose makes enough progress, he could pitch in a game at some point in the near future. He’s also learning how to incorporate pitcher fielding practice drills and utilize pickoff moves — all your usual pitching exercises and whatnot.
The transition to pitching is largely out of necessity. Gose was reluctant to give up his outfield work but Ausmus said that he felt he had to explore every avenue to remain in baseball if his center field position didn’t pan out.
Gose has dealt with quite the fall from grace after a full 2015 and partial 2016 season with the Tigers, and his performance suffered on both ends enough to force the team to demote him back to the minors. His move from Triple-A to Double-A was the result of attitude problems that then-manager Lloyd McClendon felt warranted an additional demotion.