Detroit — If you were laying odds, reliever Bruce Rondon has a better chance of being activated off the disabled list before starter Justin Verlander.
But, as their work before the game showed Monday, both have accelerated their recovery time.
"I really hope so," Verlander said after throwing what he called his most intense bullpen session in several weeks. "I've given it enough time. We were really stressing being cautious, and giving it the proper time to heal this time around.
"All signs point to it being pretty much healed, MRIs, etc. I've seen way too many MRI machines. I hope this time there are no setbacks, or anything. Can't be 100 percent, but I know it's been different this time around than it was three, four weeks ago."
Verlander, who's been out since the end of March with a triceps strain, threw all of his pitches Monday, including the curveball, the pitch that initially aggravated the triceps.
"It was fine," he said. "I'm not thinking about it. I'm not babying anything. I mean, the only thing I can complain about is it being a little bit inconsistent. But Doc (Bryan Holaday, who caught the session) said it was good break, everything was where I left off in spring training."
The next step, as has every step in this process, will be determined by how the arm responds the next day. The Tigers will also continue to proceed with caution.
"He's moving forward but we were kind of at this point earlier in the season, too, and we had a setback," manager Brad Ausmus said. "So that's more reason to be cautious. We don't want to revisit that."
Ausmus said that Verlander will throw one more bullpen session before he faces hitters in a simulated game or live bullpen. From there, he would have to make at least one and possibly two rehab starts against minor league hitters to rebuild his pitch count.
It's a good bet, even if things continue to progress smoothly, he won't be activated until the second week of June at the earliest.
"Yeah, in a perfect world, I probably need to throw a sim game, and then probably some sort of real game before I get back out there," Verlander said. "I haven't done the math on the time, but sim game, then probably try to get in my normal routine — which would be five days, rehab start, and if all goes well, start in a real game."
He was asked about the possibility of throwing a second rehab start.
"I don't really know what they want me to do," he said. "I think it all just depends on how I feel. If I throw a rehab start, getting up and down feels good, and I don't fatigue — I don't know why they'd want me to throw another one.
"I think it's really based on how I feel."
Rondon came off the mound after his 25-pitch live bullpen and was greeted with high-fives from several teammates, from Ausmus, pitching coach Jeff Jones and trainer Kevin Rand. It was an impressive performance.
"Awesome," said Verlander, who was behind the cage watching Rondon throw to Hernan Perez, Holaday and Andrew Romine.
"He looked really good," Ausmus said. "But the thing with him, it's been the day after. So we are keeping our fingers crossed that it'll be the same as his recent track record where he's felt pretty good coming in the next day. We will know more tomorrow.
"But…he looked strong. He went through all of his pitches — 25 pitches."
Rondon, who is on the DL with biceps tendinitis, could be ready to start a rehab stint.
"I will talk about that with Jeff (Jones)," Ausmus said.
Rondon will have to show he can pitch in back-to-back games before he is activated.