ST. PETERSBURG -- The good news on Victor Martinez's left knee is that it's healing fine for him to fully recover. The bad news for some Tigers fans who got their hopes up is that he won't be recovering in time for an August return.
Any return this year sounds more like the tail end of the regular season.
"Our best-case scenario for him would be a return sometime probably in mid- to late-September, at best," head athletic trainer Kevin Rand said.
That's exactly what was originally projected when Dr. Richard Steadman, the specialist who performed his microfracture knee surgery, determined Martinez wouldn't need a second surgery to repair his anterior cruciate ligament. It just wasn't what some had been built up to hope for.
Manager Jim Leyland, for one, has stuck with his original timetable.
"I came into the season thinking that if we had Victor at all this year, it would be a bonus," Leyland said. "That's just the way I kind of looked at it. After talking to Kevin today, I kind of still feel that way."
Martinez underwent a followup MRI on his knee Thursday in Colorado, where he had the microfracture surgery late in the offseason. The results on the knee looked positive. The delay is in his leg strength.
"From a stability standpoint, his knee looks great," Rand said. "But at this point in time, his single-leg strength on that side isn't where it needs to be to begin running at this point. So he's going to go through a single-leg strengthening program."
That program will take up all of July. If that goes well, Martinez will begin a running program in August while gradually picking up baseball activities. That, too, will take up the bulk of the month.