DETROIT -- The Detroit Tigers announced that right-handed pitcher Justin Verlander was placed on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday, retroactive to March 29. Left-handed starter Kyle Lobstein was recalled from Triple-A Toledo to fill in for Verlander, and he is currently slated to start on April 12 against the Cleveland Indians.
Verlander has not pitched in a game since his spring training start on March 27 against the Blue Jays. Sunday's session went well until the muscle "grabbed" during his last few throws. He was set to face live hitters if things went well at that time, but that was scratched when the muscle grabbed. Following his long toss throwing session on Tuesday, however, Verlander felt much better and both the Tigers and Verlander are "extremely optimistic" that Verlander should be able to make his next start.
"We'll have to do some type of simulated game for him before he goes into a regular season game," Ausmus said. "I can't tell you exactly where we're gonna slot him in cause, really, after Sunday we could slot him in anywhere, depending on how he felt. I can't tell you where he's going to pitch at this point."
Despite missing nearly two weeks of in-game time, Verlander is encouraged by his progress, saying the injury is a more of a day-by-day thing. The area where Verlander's strain is located in the upper medial triceps -- closer to the shoulder -- but there is no concern with Verlander's shoulder, an important distinction. So why has there still been no MRI for Verlander?
"I'm not a doctor, I don't know," Ausmus said. "They just thought it was in an area that didn't need to be MRI'd."
While it's a setback for Verlander and the team, his injury isn't something that the Tigers -- or Verlander -- are concerned with in the long run. Ausmus said Verlander must be 100 percent ready and face live hitters before he's allowed to pitch in a game again, but Verlander said at this point he'd rather miss one start early in the year, instead of ignore it and possibly be out for a significant amount of time.
"If this was September it might be a different story, might be pitching through some stuff right now," Verlander said. "Talking with the coach staff, they don't want me to do that right now. I'm positive it's going to go away. Early on it was kind of grabby, right now it's more just achy. It just gets tired quickly."
Ausmus doesn't expect Lobstein to make more than one start for the Tigers, but having a left-handed pitcher available in Toledo provides the team with obvious flexibility in the future. Lobstein, tentatively scheduled to start on Sunday in Cleveland, is currently set to face Corey Kluber. Ausmus said he has James McCann set to start at catcher against TJ House, a left-handed pitcher.
Verlander hasn't liked being away from the team, and he's glad the Tigers brought him back in Detroit to keep a closer eye on his progress. After taking a break Wednesday Verlander will resume throwing and progress to the point where he can face live hitters, and then make a start.
"Some days are really good, some days it's a little cranky, but definitely a lot better than it was a few days ago or a week ago," Verlander said. "It's definitely trending in the right direction. It's obviously taking longer than I would like, but it's just one of those things where you can't really speed up the process."