Not even Victor Martinez could have known what Victor Martinez and the Tigers were getting when a skilled hitter and a needy team were reunited ahead of spring camp.

It wasn't blasphemy to wonder if the guy they call V-Mart might be creaky from a year layoff and a 34th birthday. Science tells us that hitters begin to lose their optimum skills at age 29. Toss five years and a shredded knee onto the Martinez actuarial and Detroit might have been stuck with a dusty version of a lustrous switch-hitter and his .303 career batting average. But here was Martinez stepping to the plate Sunday against Phillies starter Roy Halladay. And here was Halladay a few moments later, in company with 6,243 customers at Joker Marchant Stadium, watching after Martinez sent a Halladay pitch on a 410-foot-plus rocket ride beyond the deep right-center field fence.

Martinez had two more at-bats good for a pair of sharp singles in the 10-inning, 5-5 draw. Each of his hits all but blared that a man batting .571 in three spring games is about where he was the last time he saw major league pitching, in October 2011, three months before ripping up his left knee.

"I think it's a little early," manager Jim Leyland said after the game. "I wouldn't be worried if he wasn't hitting, and I'm not jumping over the moon because he is.

"But he's swinging pretty good right now."

Martinez had pretty much the same view as he sat in front of his locker afterward.

"It's still spring training," he said as he shed his uniform, unveiling a brace wrapped around the knee. "The pitchers are working on their stuff. The hitters are working on stuff.

"But I definitely feel great. I'm very pleased. I'm doing everything pretty normal."

From The Detroit News: