Detroit — After reports surfaced that he might not be ready for the start of the season, it turns out that Justin Verlander is ahead of schedule — not behind.
Rehabbing from core muscle surgery, Verlander will throw Monday in Lakeland, Fla., for the first time since the procedure early this month.
He’s not throwing to prove the reports incorrect, Dave Dombrowski, the Tigers president and general manager, said Saturday at TigerFest. He’s throwing because that’s what his rehab already allows.
“It’s what I have been saying all along,” Dombrowski said. “We anticipate that he will be ready for the start of the season —and he should be ready. I can’t say 100 percent that he will be ready, but I’d be very surprised if he’s not.
“But Justin read that headline and called our trainer Kevin Rand on Friday, wondering, ‘Does Dave know where I am in my rehab?’ He ran 8½ (miles) on the treadmill yesterday. He’s doing all his agilities and is throwing Monday.”
How far ahead of schedule is that?
“He’s ahead,” said Dombrowski, “I’ll just say that.
“Justin wasn’t upset or anything. He just wanted to make sure we all knew that he intends to be ready. I’m not saying it’s 100 percent, because I don’t want him to feel pressured to be ready.”
Many more years
But will they be with the Tigers?
Victor Martinez is going into the final year of his four-year contract with the Tigers, so there will be a decision to be made about his future after the season. Age is beginning to be a factor with him, now that he’s 35, but it’s not a pressing issue yet.
However it sounds as if Martinez might foresee being financially squeezed out of the Tigers’ plans after this season. At least, that’s how it sounds as he sat down for a group interview at TigerFest.
“I want to stay here, yes,” he said. “But they have a lot of stuff going on.
“They have (Max) Scherzer (to sign), they have Miggy (Miguel Cabrera), so you know what, man, I want to take this opportunity to thank the Tigers’ organization and all the fans — because when I had the chance to be a free agent, I chose to come here because I knew the best chance to win was here.
“We still have some work to do, and we’ll see what happens. You never want to leave when you get to know everybody. This is a great group of guys. It’s like a family — and in the end, you spend more time with them during the year than you do with your family.”
Around the horn
Joba Chamberlain has lost weight (15 pounds) to get in better shape, and seems to have kind of personality fans are going to like.
By the way, to lose the weight, the right-handed reliever become a fish eater after having fish “maybe three times in my life” before his new nutrition program began.
“I’m from Nebraska,” he said. “We don’t have fish in Nebraska.”
... Alex Avila doesn’t foresee, nor does he want to ever switch positions because of the wear and tear he goes through behind the plate. And, for sure, we won’t ever hear of him trying out for an outfield spot.
“I played left for one play in college (at Alabama),” said Avila, who was a regular third baseman at the time. “And the ball wasn’t even hit to me, but the coach waved me in, and told me I needed to go back to third.”
That’s the extent of Avila’s outfield experience.