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Friday is pivotal day for Tigers' Verlander

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News
Justin Verlander 
(Robin Buckson / Detroit News)

Lakeland, Fla. – As the final days of spring training wind down, the chances of Justin Verlander making his first regular-season start April 8 against the Twins are getting slimmer.

D-day for Verlander, manager Brad Ausmus said, will be Friday.

"If he's going to throw (one more time this spring), it's going to be on the minor league side at this point," Ausmus said. "I would not rule out Friday yet."

And if the triceps soreness hasn't abated enough for him to throw Friday?

"If we get to the point Friday and he's not pitching, we would probably decide that he's not going to make his first (regular-season) start," Ausmus said. "But we are not at that point."

If the worst-case scenario played out, and Verlander couldn't make his first start, Ausmus said the Tigers could place him on the disabled list retroactive to March 28, the day after the arm cramped up against the Blue Jays.

If they did that, they could have an extra pitcher on the 25-man roster and Verlander, if healthy, could make his first start on Sunday, April 12 against the Indians.

"He said he felt a little better today," Ausmus said. "We will see how he feels tomorrow."

Anibal Sanchez would move up and start the second game of the season.

"I don't know that it's any better or worse than we expected," Ausmus said. "I still think long-term he is going to be completely fine – even in the short-term I think he will be fine."

The Tigers are going to have bullpen games on Wednesday and Thursday, meaning no starters will pitch in either game. Kyle Ryan will start Wednesday against the Astros and Angel Nesbitt will start Thursday against the Yankees.

"It just gives us a chance to see guys who are vying for spots," Ausmus said.

Left-hander Tom Gorzelanny, who hasn't faced Major League hitters since March 18, will pitch multiple innings Wednesday. He has been stretched out to three innings, pitching in minor league games.

"We're just running out of innings on the Major League side," Ausmus explained. "We're trying to stretch him out and we have other guys who have to throw. There is no underlying cause or injury."

Twitter@cmccosky