Avila close to starting rehab assignment

V-Mart could be activated for Tigers' game on Friday vs. Yankees

Avila close to starting rehab assignment

CINCINNATI -- While Victor Martinez might have closed out his rehab assignment with Triple-A Toledo on Wednesday, Alex Avila might be beginning his assignment as early as next week.

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"I would say he's close," manager Brad Ausmus said.

Avila is scheduled to throw to bases on Thursday before the Tigers wrap up their home-and-home series with the Reds. If that goes as planned, his next step will be to catch a bullpen session or two over the weekend at New York, where the Tigers face the Yankees.

That would seem to be a big step, given the left knee injury Avila is rehabbing, but Ausmus isn't quite as concerned about Avila catching as he is running.

"It doesn't bother him, actually, squatting at all," Ausmus said. "Even when it was actually bothering him, it wasn't bothering him squatting. It was more when he straightened the leg out, or when he was striding sometimes."

Still, Avila will most likely have to ease his way into catching, working up innings until he's catching full games.

"I would think his rehab, because he's got to kind of work into catching mode, would go a little bit longer than Victor's," Ausmus said.

Martinez played his fourth and potentially final game for the Mud Hens on Wednesday afternoon, going 1-for-5 in their road trip finale at Syracuse. He's 5-for-17 with a double and three RBIs, giving him enough of a chance to test out his left knee, and he's headed from Syracuse to New York City to await the Tigers' arrival on Thursday night rather than go back to Toledo.

Asked if Martinez is likely to be activated, Ausmus said his decision will depend on feedback from Martinez.

"I'm going to wait to see how he feels, see if he thinks he's ready or if he thinks he needs more at-bats, see if he thinks he's healthy," Ausmus said.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.