Sim game could be last stop before Verlander's return

Right-hander, recovering from triceps injury, to throw at least four innings Wednesday

Sim game could be last stop before Verlander's return

PITTSBURGH -- Justin Verlander's simulated game Wednesday will likely last at least four innings, manager Brad Ausmus said Tuesday. It could last longer depending on how he feels.

It could potentially be the final hurdle before he joins the Tigers' rotation. But it'll also be the one chance the Tigers have to stretch him out for the first time in 2 1/2 weeks.

"We're shooting for at least four," Ausmus said. "But if he feels good, we might go a little bit farther."

The simulated innings will last about 15 pitches each.

Verlander on his injury

Verlander hasn't faced hitters since his triceps tightened up during his Spring Training start against the Blue Jays on March 27. He lasted just two-plus innings in that game before leaving in the third. His pitch count had been stretched out in previous outings, but that has now been a while.

That's also why Ausmus isn't ruling out a rehab outing.

"If he only throws 60 pitches and he doesn't feel great, now it's tough to throw him into a Major League game when he's got a 75-pitch count. We have to wait and see before any decision is made on that."

While Verlander prepares to face hitters, reliever Bruce Rondon -- who also opened the season on the disabled list -- remains sidelined with biceps tendinitis. He was shut down from throwing last week to get another round of treatment, and he hasn't thrown since.

Closer Joe Nathan, meanwhile, still has a few more days of treatment to go before he has a chance to pick up a ball. He's on the 15-day disabled list with a right elbow flexor strain.

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.