The Tigers were concerned about Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez being healthy enough to start the season but it turns out that Justin Verlander and Bruce Rondon are now the primary concerns.
Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said both Verlander and Rondon will start the season on the disabled list.
Verlander had to leave last Friday’s game in Dunedin, Fla., against the Toronto Blue Jays with a right triceps cramp.
He acknowledged Thursday it was more than a cramp.
"I think they used the word strain," Verlander said. "It felt like just a little cramp but obviously, with it taking a little longer to heal, it’s probably a little bit more than that."
Verlander threw 60 percent from 60 feet Wednesday and threw again with a little more effort before Thursday’s game.
"I felt it a little bit but it was better than yesterday," Verlander said. "They say it’s a really good sign that it’s getting better while I’m throwing too."
Ausmus said it’s important for Verlander to keep throwing in order to work out the soreness and to maintain the arm strength he’s built this spring.
"Ver right now is scheduled to start Sunday, the sixth game of the season," Ausmus said. "Really his arm will let us know when he can get back on the mound. We’re cautiously optimistic he can get back on the mound Saturday or Sunday in the bullpen."
Verlander will remain in Lakeland to do so.
If Verlander is not able to throw off the mound this weekend, Ausmus said they would have to rethink whether he can start Sunday, April 12 in Cleveland.
"If I’m good to go throw my bullpen, I’ll throw my bullpen," Verlander said. "If I’m good to make my start, I’ll make my start. We’re at the very beginning of April now. You don’t want to sacrifice an entire season to try to speed things up. If it’s September, it’s a different story. But right now you don’t want to put yourself at risk for missing more time in the middle of the season than you have to."
This will be the first time in Verlander’s career that he’s been on the DL.
According to ESPN Stats and Info, no pitcher has made more than Verlander’s 296 starts or thrown more pitches since 2006.
"Obviously you never want to spend time on the DL but it just works out that it allows the team to have an extra bullpen guy," Verlander said. "It’s kind of a crappy way to have it go, but it helps the team."
Ausmus said after David Price pitches Opening Day, he’ll be followed by Anibal Sanchez, Shane Greene and Alfredo Simon.
Price will pitch Saturday, April 11 in Cleveland on normal rest.
Rondon also pitched last Friday in Dunedin, then did not throw again until this past Tuesday after suffering a crick in his neck from sleeping on it funny.
Rondon was supposed to throw Wednesday against the Houston Astros in Kissimmee, but was held out after complaining of shoulder soreness.
Ausmus said an MRI revealed biceps tendinitis.
"I don’t think anyone thought it was something awful when he complained of the soreness yesterday," Ausmus said. "Biceps tendinitis is very common. In spring training it’s very common just because guys’ arms aren’t midseason throwing form. For him it’s probably exacerbated by the fact he didn’t play last year."
Ausmus said Rondon will not throw until the soreness is gone.
Then Rondon will have to start a throwing program.
"He certainly would have to pitch and he would have to pitch back to back, whether it was during the course of his DL stint or a rehab assignment," Ausmus said. "That’ll be decided later."
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