Tigers' Verlander to miss start with back stiffness

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Cleveland — The juice wasn't worth the squeeze.

That's how Justin Verlander described the decision to skip his scheduled start here Wednesday because of some stiffness in the middle of his back.

"We have a staff here that's really good at talking things through, weighing all the options and looking at the big picture," he said. "It's not (worth the) risk sacrificing the rest of the year to go make a start tomorrow, when if you just give it a couple days it will quiet down completely and you don't risk anything."

The Tigers expect that he will only miss one start. They have recalled right-hander Buck Farmer from Toledo to start here Wednesday. Left-handed reliever Ian Krol was optioned to Toledo to make room for him.

"We are looking for Buck to pitch one start and then we have the ability to push Verlander back up to five days," manager Brad Ausmus said. "But he could pitch sooner. We will see how he feels day to day. If he comes in tomorrow and says he's much better, then comes in Thursday and says it's gone, well, that's just two days later, then.

"We just don't know yet."

Verlander, who made two starts after missing the first two months with a strained triceps, said his back started to stiffen in the fourth inning Saturday in New York. He was able to work through it and throw 117 pitches.

But he suffered back spasms that night and severe tightness the next morning. He said much of the stiffness has subsided, and he has continued his between-starts throwing regimen.

"I am pretty sure I'd be able to pitch (Wednesday) and get through it," Verlander said. "But I don't want to put the team in a bind. I don't want to start warming up, decide I can't make the start and now our bullpen has to cover nine innings. That can hamper a ball club for a week and I don't want to put all that strain on our bullpen."

The last thing Verlander wants is to risk is altering his throwing mechanics to compensate for the back stiffness.

"At this level, you start changing mechanics and you bring in the opportunity for some serious injury," he said. "It's smarter to just give it an extra day or two.

Verlander said he was disappointed but not surprised with this latest ailment.

"This comes with the territory of not going through spring training and trying to expedite the process," he said. "This isn't anything really serious. I have been really pleased that my arm has responded well. I just have to get my body in shape to throw 117 pitches."

Farmer was scheduled to start Tuesday for the Mud Hens, but was pulled right before the game. He was 6-2 with a 3.56 ERA as a starter with the Mud Hens. He struck out 59 and walked 22 in 68.1 innings. He made one spot start for the Tigers this season, giving up seven runs and nine hits in 5 innings.

As for Krol, it's the second time he's been the victim of the numbers game. He was sent down in April because the Tigers needed a fresh arm after the bullpen was overused.

"He really didn't do anything specific to warrant being sent down," Ausmus said. "I feel awful having to send him out, but we have to do something."



Tony Paul contributed