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Verlander 'better' but won't throw again until pain is gone

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News
It's becoming more likely Justin Verlander will start the season on the disabled list.

Lakeland, Fla. – Justin Verlander might not make another start this spring, and right now, his first start of the regular season seems in jeopardy. But things remain optimistic in the long view.

"I don't even know if injury is the right term at this point," Verlander said before the game Monday. "Talking to the trainers, talking to Jeff (Jones, pitching coach) and Brad (Ausmus, manager), it's not the smartest thing to push it. In a different part of the season, maybe I could push through it. And that speaks to what the situation is.

"If it was a different part of the season, I could push through it."

Verlander's right triceps muscle is still sore and inflamed, though that has significantly subsided. There is no MRI planned, just massages, electric stimulation and other types of therapy.

He threw lightly on Sunday, but he will not pick a ball again until the soreness is gone – a day he thinks is coming soon.

"Every day has been better," he said. "I really think today is kind of like the hump day for me. This is like the peak of the wave. I think it's going to start dramatically getting better after today."

Verlander likened the soreness in his arm to what you would feel after an especially hard work out.

"Like if you hadn't worked out in a while and you hit it really hard," he said. "The first couple of days after you are pretty sore. That's what it feels like."

Verlander put himself through a completely different workout regimen this offseason in an attempt to get his delivery and arm extension back to where it was before he had core surgery after the 2013 season.

"In talking to people, all the work I put in in the offseason to get my mobility back and lengthen and get my arm to work the way it is supposed to work, well, I hadn't done that in a while," he said. "It was kind of a shock to my system and it grabbed on me. All in all I am positive, and the strides I made were positive.

"My body just has to get used to it."

Not throwing a full bullpen Monday pretty much ended any hope of him making his start Thursday. The Tigers have not announced a starter for the game Wednesday and penciled Shane Greene in to replace Verlander on Thursday.

Verlander said the plan for when or if he might pitch the rest of the spring is yet to be determined.

"It hasn't been addressed," he said. "I don't know that there is a plan moving forward. It's a day-by-day type of situation. But I am not concerned. If anything, I am optimistic, for all the reasons I touched on. Once we get the soreness out, it will be a lot better from here on out. The great sign is that it is getting better every day."

If the arm responded, he could pitch in a minor league game, or throw a simulated game to get ready to start Game 2 of the regular season. More likely, though, he will make his first start against the Indians on April 12.

There is a day off the following week, so Verlander could be reinserted into the No. 2 spot in the rotation in that scenario.

Twitter@cmccosky