Verlander makes progress, not ready for sim game

Tigers can take righty off DL on Monday if he's ready for Interleague series

Verlander makes progress, not ready for sim game

DETROIT -- Justin Verlander was on a throw-as-you-go plan Thursday morning. If he felt good long-tossing on the damp left-field grass at Comerica Park, he could try some deliveries off flat ground.

Verlander did both. That does not, however, set up a simulated game as the next step.

"One day at a time," manager Brad Ausmus said.

Verlander will travel with the Tigers on their week-long road trip to Cleveland and Pittsburgh. Since his disabled list stint was backdated to March 29, he's eligible to return Monday. Whether Detroit would want Verlander and his strained right triceps to step to the plate in an Interleague game against the Pirates is another matter.

Verlander discusses DL stint

With an off-day next Thursday, the Tigers don't need a fifth starter until April 21 against the Yankees at Comerica Park. Verlander pitched seven innings of two-run ball against New York last year. However, he went 3-1 with a 3.63 ERA in five starts last season against the White Sox, who come to town next weekend ahead of the Yankees series.

Either way, Ausmus said Verlander will have to face hitters in a simulated setting before he's cleared to pitch in a game.

"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 where we're going to slot him in, because really after Sunday, we could slot him in anywhere depending on how he felt. So I can't tell you where he's going to pitch at this point."

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.