Detroit – Manager Brad Ausmus doesn't want to call the latest development with Justin Verlander a setback; and medically speaking, perhaps it's not. The Tigers are still saying he has a triceps strain in his right arm.
But it's not a step forward, either.
The Tigers pushed back Verlander's throwing program one full day after soreness persisted from the 80 pitches he threw last Wednesday.
"We are slowing him down," Ausmus said. "He's not going to pick up a ball until Sunday. It was more sore the second day than we planned, so we are going to slow him down a little bit."
Verlander threw a 35-pitch bullpen session and a 45-pitch simulated game in Pittsburgh Wednesday. He hasn't thrown since.
"It wasn't an injury setback," Ausmus said. "It's just more sore than we expected. We expected him to be sore the next day, but two days later, we thought he would have recovered a little bit more."
Ausmus said the plan was for him to resume throwing Sunday, but that would be dependent on the soreness abating. Verlander politely declined to talk Saturday morning.
"No updates," he said.
Ausmus said he would wait until after Sunday to determine the next step, whether it be another bullpen, another simulated game or a rehab assignment. Verlander on Wednesday made it clear he hoped to avoid a rehab assignment, though this latest development may alter his thinking on that.
"We're not at that point," Ausmus said. "But I am sure that Justin will be on board with whatever we're thinking we should do in terms of getting him back in our rotation."
The recovery process is going slowly for right-hander Bruce Rondon, as well. Ausmus said he made 15 tosses from 60 feet on Friday.
"He said he felt fine," Ausmus said.
Still, it's been 22 days since Rondon was shut down with biceps tendonitis and he still isn't close to being ready to pitch in a game. Ausmus said Rondon will have to pitch in back-to-back games with no issues before he'd be ready to be called up to Detroit.
One of the few drawbacks to having your starting pitchers go deep into games is some of your bullpen arms get rusty.
"There's not much you can do about it, whether you are concerned about it or not," Ausmus said. "I am not going to set up a simulated game for a relief pitcher and then need him in the eighth inning that night. It's just part of the baseball season."
The relievers were able to kick some rust off Saturday. Blaine Hardy (3 runs, 5 hits, 1.1 innings), Angel Nesbitt (1 hit, no runs, 1.1 innings), Tom Gorzelanny (scoreless, hitless inning), Al Alburquerque (a hit and a walk in one inning) and Joba Chamberlain (1 hit in 1 inning) all pitched.
"All these guys haven't pitched in over a week," Ausmus said. "It's tough to stay sharp when you have starters going eight innings, and as a reliever you don't even get a chance to get on the mound in a game situation.
"I don't read too much into what happened today. The one upside, you never want to lose a game, (but) the one upside is we're able to get all those relievers on the mound and pitch in a game."
Hernan Perez was the last Tigers bench player without a start and that changed Saturday.
"Yeah I am a real nice guy," Ausmus joked. "His first start is against (White Sox ace) Chris Sale."
But Perez wasn't complaining. He got a hit (not off Sale) in four at-bats, spelling Nick Castellanos at third. Castellanos had 1 for 10 with seven strikeouts against Sale.
"I had to get Perez in there," Ausmus said. "If I have to give a starter a breather, it might as well be against a guy he hasn't necessarily hit well. It's those two factors combined. Hernan hadn't started a game since spring training."
Chris McCosky on Twitter @cmccosky