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ROIT -- Victor Martinez isn't doing real baseball activities yet. The closest he came was playing catch and practicing rundowns in the Tigers' clubhouse Monday afternoon with Prince Fielder's kids. Still, the bounce in his step, the smile on his face suggest he's not far off.
The follow-up appointment coming up in two weeks with the doctor who performed his knee surgery isn't a bad sign, either.
"This time, they're going to do the MRI," Martinez said. "That's the one that's going to determine if I'm ready to start running. We'll see. Maybe September."
That's the month he hopes to rejoin the Tigers. Nothing has happened so far in his rehab since his February surgery to dissuade that.
Martinez is in town this week to visit with the Tigers' training staff, but it's also a morale boost for him. He'll watch games at home in Orlando, but he admits it's tough for him to do it, because he wants to play.
Being at the ballpark, he said, feels different. He watched batting practice Tuesday afternoon from behind the cage, and he was going to watch the game from the dugout.
"At least I can practice some of the cheerleading," he said. "But it's always good to be here and be in the clubhouse and the dugout, at least giving your teammates some inspiration or something. That's about it."
Alex Avila returned to the Tigers' lineup Tuesday after getting treatment on the off-day Monday for his right hamstring injury. He said he's fine for catching and can manage running. His backup, Gerald Laird, also was available after treatment.
Austin Jackson took part in pregame batting practice on the field Tuesday, taking swings for a couple rounds. "I'm hoping Austin Jackson, in the very near future, can go out [on a Minor League rehab assignment] and maybe play a couple games," manager Jim Leyland said. "It looks like that's a possibility."
Leyland defended Tigers hitting coach Lloyd McClendon, who has been taking some of the blame for the team's offensive struggles. "Lloyd McClendon's an outstanding hitting coach," Leyland said. "He's the same hitting coach he was last year, when guys were having career years. There's nobody that's going to outwork him. There's nobody that's going to outsmart him when it comes to hitting."