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V-Mart goes 1-for-4 in rehab start

DETROIT -- Victor Martinez hasn't batted leadoff in a Major League game since 2002, but the Tigers' designated hitter got some experience at the top of the lineup on Sunday afternoon during a rehab appearance with Triple-A Toledo.

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The switch-hitting slugger went 1-for-4 in his first competitive action since being placed on the 15-day disabled list on May 19 with left knee inflammation. He delivered a sharp RBI single in the fourth inning but swung at the first pitch and popped out with the bases loaded in the seventh.

"All reports are he's fine, so I'm sure he'll be in there again tomorrow," said Tigers manager Brad Ausmus.

Batting righty against Pawtucket left-hander Henry Owens, Martinez stepped to the plate with two outs and a runner on second in the fourth. After taking two pitches, he lined a fastball into left field to drive home the runner.

Martinez also flied out to center in the first inning and struck out on a high fastball to lead off the sixth. He batted lefty against right-hander Jonathan Aro in the seventh when he popped out in foul territory.

Earlier Sunday, Ausmus had said he was "not convinced" Martinez has fully overcome the knee pain that limited him to a .216 average with just one home run in 34 big league games this season. The designated hitter was particularly hobbled when batting lefty (.141 average with one extra-base hit in 99 plate appearances).

"I think he looks really good, but until he plays a few games, I don't know that I'll be convinced," Ausmus said.

Martinez will remain with the Mud Hens for their three-game series against Syracuse, after which the organization will reevaluate the slugger. Detroit offered to fly Martinez from Pawtucket to Syracuse -- a 300-mile trip -- but he declined and will bus with the Triple-A team.

Meanwhile, Bruce Rondon tossed the eighth inning for Toledo against Pawtucket. The right-handed reliever quickly retired the first two batters he faced but then allowed a walk and single before getting Quintin Berry to fly out on a 3-1 pitch. Rondon has reached the high 90s with his fastball but has struggled to a 10.38 ERA in nine rehab appearances with the Mud Hens after undergoing Tommy John surgery last spring. Ausmus said a decision on Rondon will be made after Sunday's outing.

Alejandro Zúñiga is an associate reporter for Follow him on Twitter @ByAZuniga.
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