DETROIT -- Justin Verlander received multiple tests and opinions regarding his right triceps strain, including an MRI performed on Thursday. The Detroit Tigers are watching Victor Martinez's health closely, and while he can hit from the right side without pain, there is a plan in place if his knee does not improve. Meanwhile, Bruce Rondon continues his recovery and Joe Nathan felt fine after his latest throwing session.
Verlander is still experiencing soreness three weeks after the injury, and the Tigers have said he will not pick up a baseball just yet. Head athletic trainer Kevin Rand confirmed that the team sent Verlander for additional testing and heard multiple opinions on the injury, although Dr. James Andrews was not one of the opinions sought by the team. Verlander is currently receiving treatment more than once a day for his triceps injury.
"He's in a holding pattern right now until we get him asymptomatic," Rand said. "He threw a sim game and had some soreness after that, a little more soreness than what we wanted to see. Basically we're treating him right now until we get him back asymptomatic then we'll start throwing again."
The last time Verlander pitched in a game was March 27 for a spring training start. He went 2-2/3 innings before being pulled when his right triceps grabbed. At the time the Tigers said the righthander would make his first regular season start, but that along with his second start were eventually pushed back.
Rand said the team waited so long to get an MRI because it hadn't reached the point where they felt one was necessary. Only when Verlander continued to experience lingering soreness did the team order additional tests. It's been more than two weeks since the season started and next week will mark a month since the injury, but Rand reiterated that it's nothing more than they expected and there is no timetable for Verlander's return.
"Everybody thinks it's taken a little bit longer," Rand said. "We've kind of never really put out there how long we thought it was going to be. We said we're taking various steps, we'll see as he progresses. When he wasn't able to make a step that we wanted, that's when we decided to do diagnostic testing at that point in time because it gave us a little bit more concern. But it turned out it was everything as we had expected from the beginning."
As for Rondon, he's been "stretched out to 150 feet" and should start throwing bullpen sessions as early as Tuesday. His continued recovery will hinge on how the flame-throwing reliever does during those sessions and Monday's latest session, after throwing each of the last three days.
Nathan will be throwing a bullpen on Monday and manager Brad Ausmus said the Tigers will likely wait through Tuesday to see how the righthander feels before deciding on the next step. However, all signs point to Nathan remaining on track and his latest session was a full bullpen.
While Rondon and Nathan are progressing well, Martinez's health is of concern for Ausmus, who said there have been times he's had to protect Martinez from himself. It's harder for Martinez to bat left-handed than from the right side, and Ausmus said Martinez feels fine up until he starts running.
The Tigers have considered all the options, including the disabled list, but after an MRI was done on Martinez's knee last week, the team feels that the DL isn't necessary right now. Where the Tigers are being careful is ensuring Martinez doesn't try to overdo it. There may come a point, however, when Ausmus said he may need to simply tell Martinez to take some time off, for his own good.
"We've considered everything, we've considered all the possibilities," Ausmus said. "And there's a plan in place, and I won't get into specifics, but hopefully it works. Sometimes, it's an imperfect science, medical issues. we do have to be careful with Victor, don't get me wrong. Certainly from the right side, despite that one swing yesterday, from the right side, he said he felt good.
"Now, he doesn't always look good afterward, when he starts moving to first. We're going to try to get this thing fixed, or healed, hopefully, and still have the ability to play him, but if it doesn't work, we'll cross that bridge when we get to it."