Verlander to throw sim game in Oakland
Detroit — Justin Verlander wasn't looking to conduct a press conference before the game, but he did make one thing clear.
"I feel great, no issues and I am excited, very excited," he said.
The reason for his excitement: He is scheduled to throw to hitters in a simulated game Tuesday in Oakland. If that goes well, he could be making a rehab start soon after.
"We think he and (Bruce) Rondon are on the mend and should be back sooner than later," manager Brad Ausmus said.
Verlander threw what is called an "up and down" on Thursday, which is a bullpen session that simulates a pitcher's activity from inning to inning. He threw a 45-pitch warm-up session, like he would when he makes a start, before taking the mound. From the mound he threw eight warm-up pitches and then 15 more pitches at maximum effort.
He sat down, as he would between innings, rested a bit, then got back up, threw eight more warm-ups and 15 more pitches.
"He said he felt good afterwards and he felt good today," Ausmus said.
The Tigers were at this point with Verlander back on April 15. He pitched a simulated game in Pittsburgh on that day and ended it after two innings, again feeling both fatigue and a pinch in the strained triceps.
The goal is for Verlander to throw at least four simulated innings on Tuesday. If that goes well, the next step would most likely be a rehab start against minor league hitters.
Rondon threw two-thirds of an inning for the Mud Hens Thursday, his fastball hitting 98 mph. He is scheduled to pitch an inning on Sunday.
"He said he felt good last night and he felt good today," Ausmus said.
Rondon is still at least three rehab appearances away from being activated. He still has to pitch in back-to-back games, which Ausmus said won't happen on Monday.
Victor Martinez, on the DL with inflammation in his left knee, began his physical therapy regimen in Orlando, Florida, on Friday. He had been waiting for the inflammation to subside.
Ausmus said he is using the same therapist who worked on him after the meniscus surgery Feb. 10.
Catcher Alex Avila completed his first full week of treatment for his left knee injury. He did double-sessions for a couple of those days.
Foreign substance abuse
Ausmus had an interesting take on the eight-game suspension slapped on Brewers pitcher Will Smith, who admitted to having a mixture of sunscreen and rosin on his arm.
"Honestly, we should have some type of rule in baseball where there can be something akin to the rosin bag out there for pitchers to get a little tackiness on their fingers to be able to grip the ball," he said. "Hitters get to use pine tar to grip the bat."
Ausmus said as long as the substance used isn't manipulating the baseball — like scuffing or wetting it — he thinks it should be allowed.
"I understand why a pitcher would want something on his fingers, especially early in the season in the cold or wind," he said. "It can be tough. There are no standards on how they rub up the baseballs. In different stadiums the balls are rubbed up and some are slipperier than others."
Around the horn
…With Red Wings coach Mike Babcock moving on to Toronto, Ausmus is now the longest tenured professional coach or manager in Detroit. "I'd like Mike Babcock's contract," he cracked. "I don't think that's going to happen. As far as being the longest tenured coach or manager, I've only been here a little over a year so I don't know how much that means."
Chris McCosky on Twitter @cmccosky