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Verlander plays light catch to get blood flowing

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Minneapolis — At about 2:30 Tuesday afternoon Justin Verlander walked into left field with trainer Kevin Rand, pitching coach Jeff Jones and David Price.

Price normally throws the day after a start. But what was Verlander doing? Why did he have his glove? He wasn't supposed to pick up a baseball until he got a clean MRI on his strained right triceps.

"We got input from a couple doctors and a very light catch is not going to impede healing at all," Verlander said. "If anything it may allow blood flow. Also, it won't get so cranky when I really do get the green light."

So, Verlander made 20 light tosses from 60 feet. It's not the resumption of his throwing program, but, it's something.

"They asked me if I wanted to and, of course, but it was kind of like a big tease," Verlander said. "I get all excited, kind of do a happy dance. I'm like, 'I get to throw today.' I'm so excited out there.

"I opened up with a couple little flips and Kevin was counting those. Then I'm like, all right, and Kevin's like, all right, you're done. They know me too well. They're not going to let me go out there and do anything."

Rand said the exercise was just to get his arm moving. He called the workout "very sub-max."

A third MRI has not yet been scheduled.

"It's still day to day," Verlander said. "I'm just going to do light catch just to keep the shoulder joint moving until we get the green light."

Bullpen thin?

Ausmus, as is his custom, would not disclose if any of his relievers were unavailable Tuesday. But closer Joakim Soria had pitched three straight days and Al Alburquerque is still dealing with a sinus infection.

"Everybody's on the lineup card, so they are all available to pitch," Ausmus said, which is his way of saying he's not saying who can or can't pitch.

Joba Chamberlain, even though he pitched an inning Monday, would be available to close. Left-hander Tom Gorzelanny is also fresh and could work late in the game.

Another emerging option is Alex Wilson. He came on in the seventh inning Monday after the Twins had chased Price and got Brian Dozier and Torii Hunter.

"He came in and got big outs," Ausmus said.

Wilson, who came to Detroit from Boston with Yoenis Cespedes, was closing games at Toledo before his call-up.

"He trends toward that," Ausmus said. "But, I am not saying this does or doesn't apply to Alex, but there is a big difference between closing in Triple A and closing in the big leagues. But he has pitched in tight situations late and that experience has helped."

Around the horn

…The Twins adjusted their lineup Tuesday, removing their best hitter Dozier. Eduardo Escobar started at second base. The reason for giving Dozier a night off? He's 1 for 17 against Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez.

... Ausmus on Gibson's Parkinson's diagnosis:

"Obviously you feel awful for Gibby and his family. I've known Gibby for 15, 16 years and he's always been great to me. He's a tremendous person and one of the fiercest competitors I have ever watched.

"I can't see Kirk Gibson folding up shop and crawling into a corner over this. I don't think that's in his DNA."

Verlander on Gibson

"I saw what Gibby said about it and no truer words have been spoken from a man like him. He is a fighter through and through. It's like he said, this is a new challenge in his life and he's going to attack it full-on. Obviously you never like to see anybody diagnosed with anything, but a guy like Gibby, part of the Tigers family, it's tough. I feel for him and his family."

Tigers at Twins

First pitch: 1:10 Wednesday, Target Field, Minneapolis

TV/radio: FSD/97.1

Scouting report

RHP Shane Greene (3-1, 3.00), Tigers: After giving up one earned run his first three starts, Greene was roughed up by the left-handed-heavy Indians — eight runs and nine hits in four innings. The Twins feature more right-handed hitters, so it could be a better matchup for Greene.

RHP Phil Hughes (0-4, 4.39), Twins: It's been somewhat of a hard-luck start for Hughes. Take his last start in Seattle — eight innings, two runs, no run support. The Tigers got him for four runs and eight hits Opening Day. Hughes has allowed six home runs in 26 2/3 innings this season.