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V-Mart returns to work out at Comerica Park

DETROIT -- Victor Martinez was on the field at Comerica Park, a bat in his hands, long before batting practice on Tuesday afternoon. The field was nearly empty at the time save for some bullpen sessions.

He couldn't wait to get going. That anticipation is part of the reason the Tigers kept him away the last few weeks while he worked with a physical therapist on his aching left knee.

As manager Brad Ausmus put it, they were protecting him from himself.

After this long, though, he needed to be back almost as badly as the Tigers need to get him back in the lineup. The latter is still a ways off.

"It's tough for me being away, unless you're going to lose the whole year," Martinez said. "I'd rather be here. It's tough for me watching [them] going out there and play every night and I can't do the same thing. I'd just rather be here, for good or bad, be part of it and be together."

For now, Martinez is doing the same activity he did last week in Lakeland, Fla., taking batting practice and running the bases. He'll do that for at least the next few days, Ausmus said, before any decision is made on a possible rehab assignment. Martinez said that no rehab timetable has been discussed.

So far, at least, his knee feels better.

"I'm still working on the strength side," Martinez said. "It's a lot better than when I left. I'm able to put a lot more weight on it."

That's the crucial factor. When Martinez went on the disabled list three weeks ago, he couldn't put enough weight on the knee to have a decent swing left-handed, leaving him ineffective against right-handed pitching. He badly wanted to keep playing, but now that he's rehabbing, he doesn't want to rush. He wants to get it right.

"This is something I have to work on the rest of my career, I guess," he said. "It's not easy, my third surgery in that same knee. It's something that I just can't forget about. Even if you started feeling good and you lay off a little bit, it'll come again. It's something that I have to work and stay on it the rest of my career."

Martinez isn't the only Tiger dealing with continued knee issues. Alex Avila spent Tuesday awaiting another opinion on another MRI he underwent a couple of days ago after experiencing soreness in his left knee while working out with the team in Chicago over the weekend.

Ausmus downplayed it as "very low-grade soreness," but they want to make sure it's not a sign of something more serious. Avila has spent nearly a month on the 15-day disabled list with what was originally characterized as a loose body in the knee. He avoided surgery when doctors suggested he could get back to health through rehab.

Jason Beck is a reporter for Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast.
Read More: Detroit Tigers, Victor Martinez, Alex Avila