St. Petersburg, Fla. — Brad Ausmus was talking with media members Thursday morning when pitcher Justin Verlander, in uniform, bounded into the Tigers manager’s office.
Verlander said nothing. He instead raised his long right arm and with one swat, high-fived the Tigers manager. Then Verlander departed.
“I would think that high-five signifies I’m starting Saturday,” Verlander later explained, confirming his hand-slap with Ausmus meant his morning bullpen session at Tropicana Field went breezily. It frees Verlander to start one of the day-night doubleheader games against the Twins at Target Field on Saturday.
“Pretty much, it was everything I wanted today. “No issues. I felt good.”
Verlander has not pitched since Aug. 11, when he had the shortest outing of his big-league career, a one-inning disaster against the Pirates at PNC Park.
Shoulder inflammation was at the root of his Aug. 11 departure. But treatment and rest have convinced Verlander, as well as Ausmus and the Tigers training staff, that the 31-year-old right-hander is ready to help a rotation that will be particularly strapped this weekend.
The Tigers already were short because of Anibal Sanchez’s stint on the disabled list. They are so crimped, and so overloaded with a schedule piled high because of earlier rainouts, that Triple A right-hander Buck Farmer will start Saturday’s other game against the Twins.