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Tigers without a timetable for V-Mart's return

ANAHEIM -- While the Tigers continue to try to get their bats going on the West Coast, Victor Martinez continues to work out at home in Florida under orders not to swing a bat while strengthening the top of his left knee. When his bat could return to the lineup remains a mystery.

"Originally, we said don't even touch a bat or a baseball for a week," manager Brad Ausmus said. "We're just at that point, really. He's just been doing his exercises.

"I think it's probably too early to try to predict. We assumed it would probably be two-three weeks, but there was no guarantee it was going to be that. It's too early to predict whether it will be two-three weeks or longer."

Martinez was placed on the disabled list on May 19. He's expected to rejoin the team when it returns to Detroit on Monday, but there's no indication he'll be ready to play again at that point. He's going to have to prove he can swing the bat left-handed without the weakness and discomfort that left him ineffective against right-handed pitchers.

That will involve more than simply pregame batting practice. Martinez was able to do that fine before going on the DL; it was his game swing, the quickness and intensity, that seemingly brought about his problems.

The only way to test that is to replicate it. So the Tigers are going to have to either set up a simulated game, something usually done for rehabbing pitchers instead of hitters, or a Minor League rehab assignment to test him out. That's going to take time, even if the club hasn't put a timetable on it.

"None of that has been determined," Ausmus said, "because we really don't know when he's going to be back."

As much as Martinez struggled through his left knee issues, the Tigers have missed his bat in recent games, never more than Thursday's 12-2 loss against the Angels. They struggled to capitalize in big situations against lefty C.J. Wilson, a pitcher against whom Detroit could have used Martinez's still-effective right-handed swing.

Asked what a healthy (or healthier) Martinez would mean, Ausmus said, "It lengthens your lineup, deepens your lineup. It becomes a lot more demanding on the opposing pitcher."

Worth noting
• Reliever Bruce Rondon, out since the end of Spring Training with right biceps tendinitis, gave up two runs on three hits in two-thirds of an inning on Friday night for Triple-A Toledo as he began the most important part of his rehab assignment. It was the first of scheduled back-to-back appearances, the hurdle the Tigers want to see Rondon clear before he returns from the 15-day disabled list. His fastball jumped from 94-95 mph on his first three batters, all base hits, to 99 mph afterward, but his command was inconsistent. He threw 17 pitches -- 10 for strikes.

• The Tigers are hoping to get clearance for catcher Alex Avila to resume baseball activities. Avila has been out since May 8 to rehab his left knee, which had been diagnosed with a loose body.

Miguel Cabrera was back at first base on Friday night after taking a foul ball off his surgically repaired right foot on Thursday. Cabrera said his foot went numb for about 30 seconds after the impact with Wilson's breaking ball, but that he felt fine soon after.

Jason Beck is a reporter for Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast.
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