MLB: Spring Training-Baltimore Orioles at Detroit Tigers
Feb 24, 2017; Lakeland, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers right fielder J.D. Martinez (28) swings at strike three to end the fourth inning during a spring training baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles at Joker Marchant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

J.D. Martinez is “pretty close” to returning to the field to begin his rehabilitation assignment before coming back to the big leagues, manager Brad Ausmus said. Martinez was in Lakeland Tuesday to see a specialist on the Lisfranc sprain in his right foot, which he injured trying to make a sliding catch during a Spring Training game against the Miami Marlins on March 18. Following the check-up, J.D. faced live pitching Wednesday and apparently looked very strong, according to Tiger’s GM Al Avila in an interview Wednesday with MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM.

“(Martinez) is not too far away from coming back” Said the Tigers General Manager. “He should be playing in games in the next few days.”

J.D. was hitting .216 with 2 HR and 3 RBI in 15 games this Spring before he was diagnosed the sprain, and was put on a timetable of 3-4 weeks to return following the injury. He initially hoped to be back by Opening Day, but his inability to run has kept him out for the first few weeks of the 2017 season. J.D. Martinez hopes to return to Tiger’s lineup by late-April.

Brad Ausmus said that J.D. has to be able to run full speed before beginning his rehab assignment, a task the Tigers hope comes sooner, rather than later. Ideally, they would like to have the power-hitting right-hander back in the lineup by the end of April.

So far this season, they have used 10 different lineups in 13 games, with the right field responsibilities split between Tyler Collins and Mikie Mahtook. While Collins is the only Tigers hitter with at least 30 at-bats hitting over .300, the duo’s power numbers are down, with only one home run and 3 RBI between the two. The Tigers will welcome J.D. Martinez’s big bat back into the lineup to continue their power surge to start the season (HR in 13 straight games). It will also allow Ausmus to stay somewhat consistent with his lineups; meaning guys can get into a rhythm on a day-to-day basis.

Martinez will play right field and settle into the 5th spot in the batting order when he returns. Last season, J.D. hit .307 with 22 HR and 68 RBI in just 120 games.