Verlander's sim game ends early due to fatigue

Tigers righty throws all of his pitches in pain-free outing

Verlander's sim game ends early due to fatigue

PITTSBURGH -- Justin Verlander threw 45 pitches over three innings in a simulated game Wednesday afternoon at PNC Park. What it means for his chances of pitching in an actual game soon remains to be seen.

Manager Brad Ausmus said a day earlier that Verlander was expected to throw four innings of about 15 pitches each, possibly longer if he felt good. Verlander said the session ended earlier due to shoulder fatigue, not pain.

"I think it's more kind of a fatigue from not throwing," Verlander said afterward. "For 20 days, the most I've thrown is 35-40 pitches in a bullpen. I think I probably, all in all, threw 80 pitches [including warmups and long toss] today, which is double the workload I've been having, and obviously at a bit more effort that I haven't had for 2 1/2 weeks."

Verlander threw all his pitches, including the curveball early, though he didn't throw any in his third and final inning once he felt fatigue. The curveball was the pitch on which he strained his right triceps nearly three weeks ago, and he didn't resume throwing it until his last bullpen session Sunday in Cleveland.

Whether it's fatigue or something else that wore him down, it's all but certain that Wednesday's outing won't be his final hurdle before rejoining the Tigers' rotation. Ausmus said they'll make sure Verlander feels healthy on Thursday before discussing the next step, with a Minor League rehab start and another simulated game as options.

A Major League start at this point is not an option.

"You can't go from 45 pitches into a Major League game," he said.

Detroit will need a fifth starter no later than Tuesday against the Yankees. That's too soon to give Verlander enough time to stretch out his pitch count and rest up for a start. So while Ausmus isn't yet writing Kyle Lobstein into the rotation for next week, it's fairly clear.

"You can put two and two together," Ausmus said, "but we won't decide the next step until Friday."

Asked about a possible rehab outing, Verlander said, "If I had my druthers, I'd rather not. I feel like especially after today, it's not like I came out there and was totally lost. Location-wise and stuff-wise, it wasn't like it just evaporated. It was still all there.

"Obviously, if I feel like I'm good enough to go on a rehab start, I feel like I'm good enough to pitch in the big leagues."

Lobstein filled Verlander's rotation spot Sunday against the Indians, pitching five innings of three-run ball despite allowing eight hits. Detroit pushed back that rotation spot for this weekend's series against the White Sox at Comerica Park, moving up Anibal Sanchez and Shane Greene to pitch on normal rest.

Verlander seemingly had his velocity going against a trio of Tigers hitters - utility infielders Andrew Romine and Hernan Perez, along with bullpen catcher John Murrian. He also threw a decent number of sliders.

Verlander had been sitting down between innings to simulate the game process of cooling down and warming up again. He struck out Murrian to end the third inning, completing his outing.

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.