By: Will Burchfield
@burchie_kid

J.D. Martinez is set to take a significant step in his road to recovery.

The Tigers right fielder will begin a rehab assignment on Friday night with the Class-A Lakeland Flying Tigers. Martinez has been sidelined since March 18 due to a right foot sprain that he suffered while sliding to make a catch in the outfield.

To this point, the most Martinez has done is take at-bats in extended spring training games. With the move up to Lakeland, it appears he is ready to run the bases and play in the outfield.

Martinez’s recovery has been slower than expected. He originally intended to rejoin the Tigers for their series in Tampa Bay that began April 18, exactly a month after his injury.

“The way I felt when I was walking off the field was like, ‘This doesn’t even hurt. I’ll be fine. I’ll be back in four or five days. Boy was I wrong,” Martinez told reporters last month.

Since his original estimate, both Martinez and the Tigers have avoided putting a date on his return.

“I haven’t set a date,” Martinez added. “I did that at first and got really frustrated.”

But the latest news is positive for Martinez, who appears to be nearing his long-awaited season debut.

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