Verlander's throwing program hinges on 'clean' MRI

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Minneapolis — It appears that if Justin Verlander is to going resume his throwing program during this 10-game road trip, as the Tigers hope, it won't be until next week in Chicago.

Verlander had a second MRI on his strained right triceps last Friday and manager Brad Ausmus said he was scheduled to have another one "next week."

He will be able to resume throwing when he gets a completely clean MRI — one with no inflammation, no fluid, in the triceps.

"I think we're on the back end of it," Verlander said. "Definitely moving in the right direction. The second MRI said we're moving in the right direction."

It was 31 days ago, March 27, that Verlander suffered the injury. He had the first MRI on April 16, the day after he threw 45 pitches in a simulated game in Pittsburgh.

Both MRIs have been consistent – showing a strain in the triceps. Each time, the inflammation has been less.

"It's weird," he said. "I talked with the trainers and they told me this is probably going to be hardest thing I've ever had to do because this does not mesh well with my personality. I want to be going out there.

"This is just one of those things you can't try to force your way through. Which is hard because everything I've done in the past is 'All right, let's attack this. Let's work through it. Let's go throw.' And this is just not one of those things you can do that with. If you do that, it ends up happening what happened, you set yourself back."

Verlander said he is in no pain or discomfort, which makes it even harder to take a passive treatment approach.

"My arm feels really good," he said. "But, that's kind of the way it was the first time through, too, where I didn't really feel anything. I was throwing. It was fine. That's kind of the consensus I've had talking with doctors.

"With this particular injury you get to a certain point and it just won't let you take that next step -- which is exactly what happened."

Verlander laughed when he was asked how he was accepting his situation.

"Nobody said I'm accepting it," he said. "You know, I'm kind of being dragged through the process every day. The trainers just kind of remind me 'Hey, you've got to let it run its process and that's the best thing we can do for it.'

"We're not looking to rush back and make one start. We're looking to get back and be able to finish the season and pitch successfully at the major league level for an extended period of time, not just for a week or two."

The attending worry is how long it will take to rebuild his arm strength once he is cleared to throw.

"That's to be determined," he said. "I wouldn't imagine taking forever. I don't think it's going to take a spring training type buildup. But I've never been through anything like this.

"That's a good question. I think we'll have a much better gauge on a time period once we get to that point. That's a process that everybody's been through."

Chris McCosky on Twitter @cmccosky