ST. PETERSBURG -- The Tigers will likely set their Opening Day roster Sunday afternoon without putting Justin Verlander on the disabled list, but that move is projected to come later. They're becoming increasingly optimistic, though, that they won't have to put him on the DL for long.
"Verlander threw and felt extremely good," manager Brad Ausmus said of Verlander's Saturday morning throwing session off flat ground in Lakeland. "So it's all positive news on Ver."
While the Tigers headed north to Detroit, Verlander stayed back at Tigertown. He's scheduled to throw a light bullpen session on Sunday, then will face hitters on Tuesday. If that goes as hoped, he'll be on track to start for the Tigers next Sunday at Cleveland.
Verlander, who left his last start on March 27 with a mild triceps strain, is still expected to be placed on the 15-day DL. The fact that the Triple-A Toledo roster was released on Saturday with one extra player on it confirms what the Tigers have been saying. Unless something dramatic happens, however, the DL move isn't expected until Tuesday, the last day the Tigers can do so and backdate the move long enough to have him eligible to be activated next Sunday.
The delay gives the team flexibility in choosing who to call up to take Verlander's spot. If Verlander looks fine in his throwing and appears on track to start Sunday, the Tigers can call up a reliever for a few days. If Verlander has a setback, Detroit will probably call up a starting pitcher, likely left-hander Kyle Lobstein.
The Tigers have to feel confident in the decision, because they won't be able to change it for a while. By rule, any player optioned to the Minors out of Spring Training has to spend 10 days there before he's eligible to be called up, unless it's to replace a player who is placed on the DL.
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.