LAKELAND, Fla. -- Justin Verlander's second session against hitters went off without any issue Friday morning at the Tigertown complex. The next hitter he faces will be wearing an opposing uniform, most likely next week. The only question is when.
Manager Brad Ausmus and pitching coach Jeff Jones want to wait a couple of days to make sure Verlander, who has been held back a bit this spring following core muscle surgery in January, feels fine before writing him back into the Tigers' rotation. Verlander, though, is already starting to prepare, complete with mechanical tweaks.
"There's still some things that I'm working on," Verlander said. "One of the things isn't really an easy fix, so I'm going to have to get off the mound a little bit more than I would if it was just a normal bullpen [for] just fine-tuning. It's going to take a little bit of time. I'm going to try to throw a little bit more than I have."
Verlander and Jones both said he was less erratic in his pitching motion in Friday's session. He threw 55 pitches, according to Jones.
Tigers lefty prospect Kyle Lobstein is set to start on Saturday. If Verlander feels OK, it isn't difficult to envision him filling that spot the next turn through the rotation. If everyone makes their turn, it would come up Thursday.
Verlander will throw at least one bullpen session beforehand, possibly two if he wants to make a mechanical adjustment immediately.
"It was just something Jeff and I both saw, one of the things I really need to get back to the way I throw," Verlander said. "I think I kind of got out of whack a bit last year. That might have had something to do with the core muscle [injury], it might not have. I don't know. But I know I don't need to worry about that. That's healed up. I need to get back to the way I should throw physically, mechanically."