It would be wrong to say J.D. Martinez struggled through the first two months of 2016, but his .820 OPS was a level below the upper-.800 range he had shown over the previous the two seasons. When he hit at a 1.076 OPS clip for the first two weeks in June, it looked like everything was back on track until he ran into a wall in foul territory during a game in Kansas City and fractured his left elbow, forcing him to miss nearly two months. There were some concerns about his power upon return, but a dramatic eighth-inning home run against Chris Sale in his first at-bat back stomped that fear down. He got hits in each of his first five games back and 19 of 20 afterward. The bottom line was another 517 plate appearances that further solidify him as one of the game's premier power bats. He flirted with 40 homers back in 2015 before the power surge swept the league, and he remains a candidate to eclipse that mark in a full season.
Manager Brad Ausmus said Sunday that the Tigers are hopeful Martinez (foot) will return from the 10-day disabled list later in April or in early May, Evan Woodbery of MLive.com reports. Martinez is gradually increasing the intensity of his workouts, most recently running at about 40-to-60 percent strength Friday. He's scheduled to run again Monday, and if his sprained right foot checks out fine, the 29-year-old could soon be sent out for a rehab assignment. With the Tigers recently placing Miguel Cabrera (groin) on the DL, the team could certainly benefit from Martinez's return sooner rather than later.
Martinez (foot) is scheduled to take batting practice Wednesday and is expected to begin running on the field Friday, Evan Woodbery of MLive.com reports. Martinez still looks to be a week or more away from being activated from the disabled list, but the on-field running marks an important step in the recovery process for the outfielder. Since suffering the mid-foot sprain in a March 18 Grapefruit League game, Martinez had been limited to running on a treadmill, so once he's able to show his mobility won't be an issue while covering the field, the Tigers might be able to flesh out a more defined return date. Because he's missed more than a month with the injury, Martinez will eventually require bulk at-bats during simulated games at extended spring training before his activation.
Martinez (foot) will join the Tigers in Tampa for their upcoming series with the Rays and is scheduled to take batting practice Tuesday, Chris McCosky of The Detroit News reports. The Tigers have no plans to activate Martinez from the disabled list during the Rays series, as he still hasn't been cleared to take part in outfield drills. Before the Tigers allow him to do so, Martinez will need to run with at least 80 percent of his body weight on an Alter-G treadmill, but it's unclear when that might happen. Look for manager Brad Ausmus to continue to go with a platoon of Tyler Collins and Mikie Mahtook in right field until Martinez is activated.
Tigers general manager Al Avila said Martinez (foot) "should be playing in games in the next few days," MLB Network Radio reports. The team previously said that Martinez likely won't require a full 20-day rehab assignment, so if he starts rehabbing soon, he could be back with the Tigers before the end of the month. His return will cut into the playing time of Tyler Collins and Mikie Mahtook, and it could possibly send JaCoby Jones to Triple-A for regular at-bats.
Manager Brad Ausmus said Tuesday that he does not expect Martinez (foot) will need a full 20-day rehab assignment, Jason Beck of MLB.com reports. The Tigers are not providing a timetable for Martinez's return to action, but the fact that they are talking about a rehab assignments speaks to the outfielder's progress. Ausmus said Martinez is progressing "extremely well," having advanced to regular batting practice Monday. The biggest tests -- namely running and cutting in the outfield -- still await, but a return before the end of the month seems well within the realm of possibility.