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Lakeland, Fla. — The Tigers on Saturday optioned three-fifths of the Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens’ starting rotation back to the minor league camp.

Right-handers Drew VerHagen and Buck Farmer, as well as left-hander Chad Bell were optioned to Toledo. And manager Brad Ausmus said all three were sent down to start.

“VerHagen just needs to get back on the mound,” he said. “He hasn’t pitched in about 10 months, or whatever it was (due to thoracic outlet syndrome surgery). He just needs to get the reps back.

“He’ll go down there and start, which will allow him to get him more innings, throw more pitches, get his release point back to where he’s throwing more consistent strikes. Then, he would be available to us as a starter or reliever.”

Farmer, who has had a strong camp, is likely the No. 6 starter in the Tigers organization.

“Yeah, if we’re in season now and we needed a guy to come up and start, it would probably be Buck.” Ausmus said.

Farmer had 12 strikeouts in nine spring innings.

“Buck was a long shot here and he’s kind of been on that Toledo-Detroit train for a few years,” Ausmus said. “He needs innings and we’re running out of innings here.”

Bell, whom the Tigers acquired from the Rangers for Bobby Wilson last year, showed some promise early with a mid-90s fastball. But he was roughed up in his last few outings.

“We will have him start down there so he can do the same stuff – get reps, build innings and throw more pitches,” Ausmus said. “We want him to work on command a little bit with a concentration on how to get lefties out on a more consistent basis.

“If we use him out of the pen, that would be primarily what his role would be.”

Besides these three pitchers, right-handers Myles Jaye (cut last week) and Warwick Saupold (still in camp) are also expected to be in the Mud Hens rotation.

The Tigers now have 51 players in big-league camp.

Briefly:

…Miguel Cabrera (back tightness) was not expected to play in Team Venezuela’s WBC finale Saturday. He, and fellow Tigers Victor Martinez, Bruce Rondon, Arcenio Leon and Francisco Rodriguez are expected to be back in TigerTown by Wednesday.

…Outfielder Alex Presley (elbow contusion) was available Saturday after missing the last two days.

Twitter @cmccosky

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