Tigers' right-hander Justin Verlander had surgery to repair a torn core muscle just six weeks ago, and only three weeks ago we heard he might not be ready in time for the start of the season. His run of six consecutive opening day starts appeared to be in doubt.
On Saturday, Verlander took a major step towards being ready for the season by throwing a 41-pitch bullpen session. He told reporters (including John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press) afterwards that he "should be ready" in time for the start of season as long as he doesn't suffer a setback. Here's more:
“It's getting to where I don't feel anything in my hips or my groin ... where I had surgery,” he said. “I'm focusing on what I normally do at this time — getting my arm in shape and refining my mechanics.”
Verlander, 31 next week, went 13-12 with a 3.46 ERA (121 ERA+) in 34 starts and 218 1/3 innings last season. He is baseball's preeminent workhorse, throwing at least 201 innings every year since 2007. The Tigers did scale back his workload a bit in 2013 in an effort to keep him fresh for the postseason.
Verlander's opening day start streak is the second longest in franchise history, behind only Jack Morris' 11-season run from 1980-90. If he can't go, reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer figures to get the assignment.