Victor Martinez won't be playing for the Tigers in August.

Martinez probably won't be back for all of September, either.

After an MRI on his left knee, the one he hurt in the offseason, the best case for Martinez would be for a mid-to-late September return, Tigers trainer Kevin Rand said Thursday.

Martinez's left leg isn't strong enough right now to warrant a brighter prognosis.

"From a stability standpoint, his knee looks great," Rand said before the Tigers opened a four-game series against the Rays. "But his single-leg strength on that side isn't where it needs to be for him to begin running.

"So for July, he'll go through a strengthening program. If all goes well and the strength of that leg is equal to the right side, he would begin a running progression for the month of August."

That progression could take as long as four weeks.

"As for returning to play, it's not until he gets through that running progression, including baserunning, that you could even begin to think about it," Rand said. "Our best-case scenario would be for him to return (to the Tigers lineup) in mid-to-late September. We have to get the leg strength back."

Martinez, 33, hit .330 with 102 RBIs for the Tigers in 2011, his first year of a four-year contract with Detroit.

Martinez then injured his leg in the offseason while training. The Tigers hoped he could return earlier than the original projection — that he wound miss the entire year — but they aren't going to risk the final two years of his contract.