Verlander's status in question after bullpen session

Tigers righty to face hitters Tuesday, hopes to stay on track for Sunday start

Verlander's status in question after bullpen session

DETROIT -- While David Price took the mound in Detroit, Justin Verlander spent his Opening Day on Monday playing catch in Florida, hoping to stay on track to start Sunday at Cleveland.

At this point, it's not exactly certain.

"Ver threw [Sunday] off the mound, felt great. Last couple pitches, not as great," manager Brad Ausmus said. "We're waiting to talk to him today, see how he feels."

Tigers officials met after Monday's game to talk with Verlander, see how he felt playing catch Monday, and determine a next step. He's expected to face hitters Tuesday if he feels fine, but that wasn't an automatic as of Monday afternoon.

Verlander on missing Opening Day

Either way, Verlander is headed to the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 28, the day after he left his start against the Blue Jays with what ended up being a triceps strain. That move will come Tuesday.

How Verlander feels will determine what the Tigers do with his roster spot. If Verlander is on track to start Sunday, Detroit will call up an extra relief pitcher for a few days, giving the club depth in case of extra innings or rain delays. The latter could be huge, given the forecast for Detroit and Cleveland later this week.

If Verlander doesn't appear ready to go Sunday, or even if his status looks questionable, the Tigers are expected to call up an insurance starter, likely left-hander Kyle Lobstein.

The Tigers have to get this right. By rule, the only way they can call up a player right now who was optioned to the Minor Leagues out of camp is to replace somebody who goes on DL. If the Tigers put Verlander on the DL and call up a reliever, they can't replace him with a starter a few days later if they find out Verlander won't be ready. That would leave them with a potential bullpen start, since they can't skip his rotation spot again.

The pieces are already in place for the Tigers to call up somebody. The roster announced at Triple-A Toledo has one player above the limit, anticipating a forthcoming move.

Jason Beck is a reporter for 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.