Monday, the first game on the road trip in Minnesota, will mark exactly one month since Verlander felt a strain in his triceps during his Spring Training outing against the Blue Jays. What was once hoped to be a short-term injury, potentially not even costing him a Spring Training start, has lingered well beyond expectations.
For now, Verlander's throwing program remains on hold while he waits for inflammation to subside in his triceps. He hasn't thrown since his simulated game in Pittsburgh a week and a half ago, which ended early due to fatigue and led to an MRI exam once he felt lingering soreness afterward.
The MRI exam showed fluid in the triceps area, according to Ausmus, indicating that the injury "wasn't fully recovered."
Verlander won't throw until he's not only pain-free, but free of soreness. So for now, he's doing everything short of throwing. He was wearing a compression sleeve on his arm earlier this week to try to promote healing.
The longer Verlander goes without throwing, the longer he'll need to stretch out his arm once he begins throwing again. When the injury happened, Verlander was stretched out long enough in his Spring Training starts that he could reasonably expect to slot into the rotation once he was healthy. That time has passed, and the likelihood of a rehab assignment to stretch out his arm endurance again seemingly rises with time.
While Verlander sits in a holding pattern, reliever Bruce Rondon -- who also began the season on the 15-day disabled list -- continues to make incremental progress in his rehab from biceps tendinitis. The hard-throwing right-hander threw 20 fastballs and five changeups off the mound on Saturday at the Tigers' Spring Training complex. He had Sunday off to rest.
If Rondon feels fine on Monday, he'll add five sliders to his mix. The pattern will continue until he feels good enough to throw a full bullpen session with all of his pitches. That doesn't put a return to action particularly close, but the Tigers hope it avoids the stops and starts they've had in his rehab previously.
As for reliever Al Alburquerque's injury concerns, he said Sunday morning that he'll see a doctor to treat a sinus infection that he believes has been bothering him for the past week or two, including his vision issues and headaches. As far as his arm is concerned, he says he's fine.