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St. Louis – Both Justin Verlander and Bruce Rondon, vital pieces of the Tigers’ pitching staff, took another step toward returning to active duty.

Both threw bullpen sessions before the Tigers’ 10-4 win over the Cardinals Friday night and both responded well Saturday morning.

“Ver was good,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “He threw 35 pitches – fastballs, sliders and change-ups. Everything was good.”

Ausmus wasn’t sure exactly how many pitches Rondon threw, likely less than Verlander since he’s a short-inning reliever, but he was impressive.

“He turned it loose,” Ausmus said. “He looked really good, strong. But the key for him is how he’s feeling the next day. That’s been the problem.”

Rondon said he felt better Saturday morning than he had been after his throwing sessions. He threw off flat ground again Saturday.

Ausmus believes Rondon is closer to being sent on a rehab assignment than Verlander.

“The fact that he feels good today is an excellent sign,” he said. “That was kind of the last hurdle for him, being able to throw all out and still be OK the next morning.”

Ausmus said no rehab assignment has been scheduled for either pitcher.

“I think Rondon is closer to that point than Verlander only because he doesn’t have to build up his pitch count as much," Ausmus said. "I would think before they do a rehab assignment they would have to do a simulated game, maybe two in Justin’s case.”

Verlander has a triceps strain and Rondon biceps tendonitis.

Chris McCosky on Twitter @cmccosky

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