Verlander set for first rehab start on Sunday

Verlander set for first rehab start on Sunday

ANAHEIM -- Justin Verlander got his first-ever look at Oracle Arena and NBA playoff basketball Wednesday night, joining teammate Miguel Cabrera to watch the Golden State Warriors advance to the NBA Finals. Come Sunday, he'll get his first taste of Triple-A baseball.

Clearly, he's hoping his start for Toledo on Sunday afternoon at Indianapolis will be a quick pit stop on his way back to the Tigers' rotation. The team, for its part, hasn't committed to one start or more, preferring to wait and see how his arm responds over 80-85 pitches.

Verlander flew to Anaheim following Wednesday's basketball game, and threw a bullpen Thursday afternoon at Angel Stadium. He's expected to fly east on Friday.

It'll be Verlander's first live game action since he strained his right triceps in the third inning against the Blue Jays in a Spring Training start March 27. He has thrown more bullpens than he has cared to count since, as well as two simulated games.

With Kyle Lobstein on the shelf for now with shoulder inflammation and Alfredo Simon away from the team to be with his father, the Tigers could definitely use Verlander sooner rather than later. However, they want him healthy first and foremost. They also have some flexibility with their rotation coming up thanks to three off-days in an 11-day span, starting with Monday's return to Detroit.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.