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Justin Verlander plans to throw off the mound Monday

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Days after speculation Verlander was behind schedule, we can now speculate he's ahead of schedule!

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

A few weeks removed from core muscle repair surgery, Tigers ace Justin Verlander appears to be ahead of schedule in his rehab from the injury. In fact, he's scheduled to throw off the mound today in Lakeland -- that's probably the most important takeaway from TigerFest on Saturday.

Tigers president and general manager Dave Dombrowski spoke about Verlander's situation (via the Detroit News:)

"It's what I have been saying all along," Dombrowski said. "We anticipate that he will be ready for the start of the season -and he should be ready. I can't say 100 percent that he will be ready, but I'd be very surprised if he's not.

"But Justin read that headline and called our trainer Kevin Rand on Friday, wondering, ‘Does Dave know where I am in my rehab?' He ran 8½ (miles) on the treadmill yesterday. He's doing all his agilities and is throwing Monday."

How far ahead of schedule is that?

"He's ahead," said Dombrowski, "I'll just say that."

This comes only a handful of days after speculation that Verlander may not be ready to make his (presumed) Opening Day start at the end of March. Dombrowski may have inadvertently caused the commotion Thursday in an effort to keep Verlander from feeling pressured to come back so soon. Via MLive, Dombrowski said:

"I'm not concerned for him being out an extended period. If he misses any time of the season, it would only be a very short time period. I'm not ready to say that he will. But he's doing very well."

Verlander suffered the injury, which the Tigers have never named specifically, in late December and underwent surgery Jan. 9 in Philadelphia with the same doctor who performed on Miguel Cabrera last fall.