LAKELAND, Fla. – Magglio Ordonez knew his season was over as soon as he broke his right ankle sliding into home plate against Toronto last July 24.
"When you snap your ankle, there's no way you are coming back by the end of the season," Ordonez said after the Detroit Tigers finished practice on Monday. "Since then, all I had to do was work to get back to this year."
Ordonez was batting .303 with 12 homers and 59 RBIs in 84 games. He had 12 homers and 59 RBI before the injury. He led the Tigers with 28 homers and 139 RBIs in 2007, and he said he can put up similar statistics.
With Victor Martinez signed as a free agent during the offseason, manager Jim Leyland said the 3-4-5 spots in his batting order are set as long as first baseman Miguel Cabrera makes it back into the lineup. Cabrera hasn't reported to camp after his DUI arrest last week.
Leyland expects a top season from the 37-year-old Ordonez.
"He looks great so far, great," the manager said. "With those guys at the heart of the order, we have a great track record, and Magglio is going to drive in more runs than ever."
For Ordonez to top his career-bests, he'll need help at the top of the order. Austin Jackson should be a lock to hit leadoff, and one of Leyland's big challenges is to find a No. 2 hitter.
"With Magglio at the three spot, he can know in runs, I promise you that," Leyland said. "He's ready to play and I am not concerned with him at all."
Ordonez said the ankle feels fine and he's ready to put last season behind.
"I feel fine and I can tell you that we are going to be a great team if everybody stays healthy," Ordonez said. "The lineup looks great, and I just want to get going."
Detroit was 81-81 last year, then declined his $15 million option before agreeing to a $10 million, one-year deal.
"We are just going to take it easy with him and have him ready," Leyland said. "We won't rush him, but I expect him to have a career year."
NOTES: 2B Scott Sizemore who was the Tigers opening day starter before splitting time between Detroit and Triple A Toledo after suffering a right groin strain, is 100 percent according to Leyland. ... Although prized pitching prospects Andy Oliver and Jacob Turner have been turning heads, Leyland said it was "highly doubtful" that they would open the season in Detroit. ... Leyland said OF Clete Thomas, who missed much of last season with a knee injury, was 100 percent and ready to compete for a roster spot.