WASHINGTON -- The good news for Victor Martinez is that the new schedule of Interleague Play -- with series against National League teams scattered throughout the season rather than one long June stretch -- means he doesn't have to worry about being sidelined for long without the designated hitter. In the case of this two-game series against the Nationals, it's not long at all.
The better news, though, is that he's thinking he could catch by the time the Tigers have three-game series on the road vs. the Mets in August and the Marlins at season's end.
"My knees are doing great, everything's doing great," Martinez said. "Hopefully by the end of the season, I'll be able to get behind the plate for a few games."
In fact, Martinez said, he could catch now in a pinch.
"I mean, I'm pretty healthy," Martinez said. "That's not a concern at all. It's a matter of just getting ready."
It's an interesting outlook for someone who missed last season recovering from knee surgery, but it's something that has been a possibility for a while. Manager Jim Leyland didn't rule it out in Spring Training.
For this series, though, and most likely for the two-game series in Pittsburgh at the end of May, he's a pinch-hitter. It's a role that his approach to the DH spot, keeping himself ready to hit between at-bats by working out in the clubhouse, helps him handle.
Martinez is 11-for-33 with a home run, nine RBIs and 10 walks for his career as a pinch-hitter, but nine of those hits came from 2002 to 2007. He had only one at-bat as a pinch-hitter with the Tigers two years ago, grounding out.
"I think I kind of like how they play the games this series, two days," Martinez said. "Coming off the bench five, seven days, it would be tough."