Victor Martinez is due to bat for the Detroit Tigers on Friday for the first time in 496 days.

The last time he did so was in the final game of the 2011 AL championship series in Texas.

Three months later, in January of last year, Martinez tore up his knee while working out. He missed the entire 2012 season.

In Friday’s exhibition opener, Martinez is due to be the Tigers’ starting designated hitter. It’s the role the 34-year-old switch-hitter is penciled in for this season.

“Victor is one of those guys who just has so much appreciation for the game, and he likes to play it so much -- he’s absolutely in hog heaven right now,” manager Jim Leyland said this morning. “He really missed it.

“He’s just thrilled to be back in uniform and out on the field. He’s like a kid.”

One can think here of what the late Stan Musial said was the biggest thrill of his 22-year career: “Putting on the big-league uniform every day.”

Leyland added: “Victor just looks -- knock on wood -- 100%. It doesn’t look like there are any restrictions right now.”