Detroit Tigers designated hitter Victor Martinez remains optimistic that he'll be able to play by the end of the season -- and in the postseason, if there is one.
Martinez returned to the Tigers' clubhouse for the first time on Monday and told reporters that he continues to improve from the microfracture surgery he underwent in late January.
"Doctors say that there is a lot of chance of playing at the end of the year," Martinez said. "So keep your fingers crossed, keep working hard and see what happens."
He was expected to miss the entire 2012 season after he was scheduled to undergo anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction surgery in early April, but the ligament wasn’t completely torn and the season-ending surgery wasn’t needed.
Martinez is expected to remain in Detroit for the three-game series against Kansas City before returning to Orlando where he will continue his rehabilitation program.
He is scheduled to meet with Dr. Richard Steadman in Vail, Colo. next week for a follow-up re-examination.
"We’ll see how it goes," Martinez said. "Just keep working slow, just got to make sure you put the hard work in everyday.“
A follow-up MRI is scheduled in early July where the timetable for his return will be reassessed. If the MRI shows continued improvement, Martinez could potentially return to baseball activities in late August or early September.
"If this things responds, like we're expecting, I don't see any problem (playing in September)," Martinez said. "I want to play right now."
Asked whether his rehabilitation has been easier, knowing there's a chance he could return in late August, Martinez said it's offered encouragement.
"It doesn't make it easier, but it's something that makes you work," he said. "There's now a light at the end of the tunnel."
He participated in a physical therapy session Monday with Steve Scheer, the director of Team Rehabilitation in Royal Oak, Mich. He is expected to receive treatment Tuesday, too.
Martinez has been wearing a brace to support his left knee since he ditched his crutches 10 days ago.
"This feels so good, man, just to be able to walk by yourself," he said. "I still got (the crutches) at home, but I’m going to do some fireworks with them."