Verlander scratched from start against Indians

Verlander scratched from start against Indians

CLEVELAND -- Justin Verlander will not get a chance to finish off a Tigers sweep of the Indians today. The former American League Cy Young Award winner and AL MVP has been scratched from his scheduled start with back stiffness.

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Instead, Buck Farmer will make the spot start after being called up from Triple-A Toledo. The right-hander will try to help the Tigers secure a sixth win in as many tries in Cleveland. It's a last-minute change for an issue that has quietly been bothering Verlander since his last start.

Verlander's road back is halted after two starts off the disabled list, where he spent the first two months of the season recovering from a right triceps strain. He threw 117 pitches over 6 2/3 innings in a loss at Yankee Stadium last Friday, and he said on Wednesday night that his back tightened up around the fourth inning. He went through his normal between-starts routine, including a short throwing session on Tuesday afternoon, but he couldn't shake the tightness in the middle of his back.

"It fatigued a little bit on me in the game in New York," Verlander said. "I felt it a little bit, but once I got loose it was OK, and I think I'd be able to do the same thing this start. But that being said, you also don't want to put your team in a bind."

Manager Brad Ausmus indicated he did not know about the back issue when he kept Verlander in the game past 110 pitches.

"He said once it got loose, it didn't bother him," Ausmus said. "But at this point, now that I do know about it, we want to get rid of it before he starts again."

Verlander said he's optimistic that he will be able to start at some point this weekend against the White Sox at Comerica Park.

"I would hope so," he said. "I think it's really close. We were all optimistic that I would be able to make my start [today]. It just kind of lingered a hair longer than we thought, trying to get over the hump. In talking with our trainers and our coaching staff, they just don't really think at this point that it's worth it to push it and risk further injury."

Verlander had some similar optimism after his triceps injury at the end of Spring Training that it would be a short-term issue. In this case, however, the arm is fine by all accounts.

Farmer will be starting in Verlander's spot for the second time this season, making the fourth start of his big league career. Farmer gave up seven runs on nine hits in five-plus innings against the Angels on May 28, and he was later optioned back to Toledo.

Farmer had been scheduled to start on Tuesday night at Durham, but he was scratched once the Tigers decided not to push Verlander. Farmer spent Tuesday night flying to Cleveland ahead of the 12:10 p.m. ET start.

To make room on the roster, lefty reliever Ian Krol was optioned to Toledo. Krol made four appearances since being recalled a week and a half ago, allowing six runs on eight hits over 3 2/3 innings.

"It's a numbers game. This is the second time it's happened to him," Ausmus said. "It's just somebody needed to be sent out. I feel awful for having to send him out, but we have to do something."

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.