Verlander gets green light, starts throwing

MRI results reveal inflammation has subsided around Tigers righty's triceps

Verlander gets green light, starts throwing

CHICAGO -- Justin Verlander is throwing again. The 2011 American League Cy Young Award winner, sidelined since late March with a right triceps strain, threw 50 times off flat ground Wednesday afternoon after doctors reviewed his MRI exam and decided inflammation had sufficiently subsided.

The Tigers confirmed that Verlander was examined Wednesday by Dr. Anthony Romeo, an elbow and shoulder specialist at Chicago's Rush University Medical Center, to review the results.

"He was given the clearance to resume a throwing program designed to return him to full competition," the team's statement said.

Shortly after that statement came out, Verlander was at U.S. Cellular Field playing catch with teammate David Price. Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said Verlander told him he felt fine afterward.

It's still a long way from throwing in a game, and Ausmus acknowledged that Verlander likely faces a lengthy Minor League rehab assignment once he's ready for game action. Still, the clearance means he can at least start making progress.

"He's not going to be off the mound for a while," Ausmus said Wednesday afternoon. "There's no real set timetable. He's able to throw, he's able to catch on an everyday, every-other-day basis. It really just depends on how he feels. ... He's got to start building up his arm strength again, basically from ground zero. We'll just have to see how it goes."

Verlander has been undergoing near-weekly MRIs since cutting short his simulated game in Pittsburgh three weeks ago and experiencing soreness afterward. Team officials insisted Verlander wouldn't begin a throwing progression again until the MRI showed no fluid around the triceps, indicating that inflammation is gone. It's an unusual approach to what Verlander calls an unusual injury, but they're trying to avoid any more stops and starts.

"I'm itching," Verlander said Tuesday afternoon after the exam. "I told [head athletic trainer] Kevin [Rand] if I get that green light, man, it's going to be hard to hold me back. I'm ready to go."

Three doctors -- one with the team -- have been looking over Verlander's tests and progress reports and making recommendations, the pitcher said Tuesday. That process held up any decision on Verlander's Tuesday test results until Wednesday morning.

In the meantime, Verlander has been doing exercises as well as "extremely light" tossing, as Ausmus put it, meant more to keep Verlander occupied.

Verlander will increase his long-tossing session by throws and by distance. Once he has thrown far enough and long enough to assure team medical staff that he's fine, he'll start throwing off a mound in the bullpen. Verlander will do a series of those sessions before he's cleared to face hitters.

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.