LAKELAND, Fla. -- Justin Verlander is heading to the disabled list for the first time in his career, and Bruce Rondon will open the season on the DL for a second consecutive year.
Tigers manager Brad Ausmus announced the moves Thursday morning. Verlander will be placed on the 15-day DL with a right-triceps strain, retroactive to Tuesday, the day after he left a start against the Blue Jays in Dunedin.
By backdating the move, the Tigers will be able to activate Verlander on April 12, the first day Detroit needs a fifth starter.
Whether Verlander will be able to make that start remains to be seen.
"Really, his arm will let us know when he can get back on the mound," Ausmus said. "We're cautiously optimistic he'll get back on the mound Saturday or Sunday [and throw a] bullpen."
Verlander's arm has been difficult to judge ever since he left Monday's outing. The injury was initially called a triceps cramp and team officials said they expected him to make his final Spring Training start.
That would have been today. While Verlander threw on flat ground for a second consecutive day, he has not yet gotten back on a mound.
"We got to a point where I wasn't able to make my start today," Verlander said, "so once that's scratched, you kind of look forward from there. We know I need to get one more throwing session in.
"I threw yesterday and it went OK. I threw today and it was better. That's a really good sign it's getting better while I'm throwing, too, so I'm optimistic about that."
Verlander was originally scheduled to start the second game of the regular season Wednesday against the Twins. Anibal Sanchez will move up a day to make that start. Shane Greene, who was scheduled to make his Tigers debut April 11 in Cleveland, will move up to start next Thursday's series finale against Minnesota.
David Price, who was scheduled to get an extra day of rest following his Opening Day start, will instead start on regular rest April 11 against the Indians, opposite Cy Young winner Corey Kluber.
If Verlander starts the next day, he'll have spent six regular-season days on the DL, which is six more than he had over nine full Major League seasons and 1,978 regular-season innings. He missed a start last August after experiencing shoulder discomfort, but stayed on the roster.
"At least I can take solace in the fact that I'm going on the DL to help the team [carry an extra player]," Verlander said.
Rondon heads to the DL one day after being scratched from a scheduled relief outing with a sore right shoulder. An MRI taken Wednesday afternoon showed tendinitis in Rondon's biceps.
While the Tigers can get through their rotation for the first six games without Verlander, thanks to Tuesday's off-day, putting together a bullpen without Rondon is another task. His healthy return was seen as a huge factor after he missed all of last season following Tommy John elbow surgery.
"I don't think anyone thought it was something awful when he complained of the soreness yesterday," Ausmus said. "Bicep tendinitis is fairly common. And in Spring Training it's fairly common as well, because guys' arms aren't in midseason throwing form. For him, it's probably exacerbated by the fact that he didn't play last year."
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.