Fans could be excused for sometimes forgetting about Victor Martinez, so long ago was it that Martinez last swung a bat in a Tigers game.

It has been 13 months, a long time in baseball, and longer yet for a man who turns 34 in seven weeks and whose baseball career is at least approaching early evening on a big leaguer's timeline.

He is expected by the start of spring camp to be healed from the torn left-knee ligament, shredded during a January workout, which ruined his 2012 season. What isn't known with certainty is whether he will be the same hitter in 2013.

What can't be projected is a schedule for Martinez to regain his timing, or those precise skills that enabled him to bat .330 for the Tigers in 2011, with 103 RBIs and an .850 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage).

You can count Tigers manager Jim Leyland among the curious.

"I want to make sure I say this right, because I don't want to put a negative thought in anybody's mind," Leyland explained during last week's press briefing, after his contract had been renewed for 2013. "But I really don't know the answer to that.

"Victor hasn't played for a year. Everybody's just assuming, 'Well, you got Victor back.' And, believe me, I'm thrilled to have Victor back.