The Tigers anticipate a full recovery by the start of the 2014 season for Justin Verlander. (Robin Buckson / Detroit News)
Detroit – First, the bad.
Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander has suffered an offseason conditioning injury that required “core muscle repair” on Thursday. He’ll undergo six weeks of rehab and will be re-evaluated on, or about, Feb. 20.
But because spring training begins for pitchers and catchers with the first workout in Lakeland, Fla. on Feb 14, Verlander will be behind when he gets back on the mound
Now, the good.
Verlander should be well over his recovery by the time the season begins. He might even be well over it by the time the exhibition season begins.
In other words, in no way is it as serious as what the Tigers encountered with Victor Martinez’s conditioning injury two years ago.
That was a knee that popped.
This is a groin that ached.
And because the ache wasn’t getting any better, after Verlander began to feel it in late December, he called Tigers president and general manager Dave Dombrowski to inform him of the problem.
During the call, Verlander asked Dombrowski to assure owner Mike Ilitch he would be all right and that he wasn’t going to miss any part of the season.
Why such a request? Being a major investment of the Tigers, Verlander simply wants to live up to his end of the deal by being healthy enough to pitch.
Anytime one of your best pitchers goes down with an injury, however – one that requires surgery, no less – it’s a red flag.
Verlander addressed the surgery on Twitter on Thursday, writing, “Thanks for the support regarding my surgery today. It went well and now my only focus is to get ready for 2014!”
Thanks for the support regarding my surgery today. It went well and now my only focus is to get ready for 2014! #determined— Justin Verlander (@JustinVerlander) January 9, 2014
The doctor who operated on Verlander, Dr. Bill Meyers in Philadelphia, is the same surgeon who operated on Miguel Cabrera with a similar procedure after the postseason.
Although the term “sports hernia” has become commonplace when referring to the kind of injury suffered by Verlander and Cabrera, doctors prefer the title “core muscle injury” because of the array of muscles that are part of the abdominal and groin network.
Athletes are among the most frequent victims due to the sheer stress placed upon muscles within the pelvis and abdominal regions.
The timing of Verlander’s problem isn’t optimal, certainly, but if the recovery goes as planned, it won’t be a major setback, either. The Tigers don’t open the regular season until March 29 at home against Kansas City.
“We were away for a portion of the holidays,” said Dombrowski, “and when I got back, Justin called me, saying something had happened that probably needed to be addressed.”
But it wasn’t a “are you sitting down, boss?” kind of call.
In a statement released by the Tigers, Dombrowski said, “We fully anticipate Justin to participate in spring training and be in position to compete at the beginning of the 2014 season.”
According to the team’s announcement, Verlander will “undergo six weeks of physical rehabilitation and will be re-evaluated at the end of that time.”
Dombrowski said there’s a chance Verlander might be cleared to throw earlier, but that it’s too early to know for sure if he will.
Verlander isn’t not coming off his best season, what with a 13-12 record last year, but was encouraged by the way the regular season ended for him.
In six September starts, he had a 2.27 ERA and tossed shutout ball in three of them.
But even with his ups and downs of 2013, a “Surgery for Verlander” headline is an unwanted one for the Tigers.
No matter what kind of surgery it is.
Lynn Henning of The Detroit News contributed.