ST. PETERSBURG -- Tigers right-hander Justin Verlander expects to avoid going on the disabled list and start on Saturday against the Twins.
"I would say [the likelihood is] 'strong' to 'quite strong,'" Verlander said before Wednesday's game against the Rays. "I plan on starting. I think 'penciled in' is fair to say. There's always an eraser, but in my plan there is none. I'm gonna start on Saturday, especially if everything continues to go the way it has been."
Verlander long-tossed at Tropicana Field on Wednesday afternoon, the next step toward returning from the right shoulder inflammation that caused him to miss his last start. Barring an unforeseen setback, Verlander will throw a light bullpen session on Thursday before starting one of the games of a doubleheader in Minnesota.
Manager Brad Ausmus said he would likely give Verlander the choice of which game he wanted to start if everything goes according to plan and the righty ends up ready to go.
Verlander said he felt much better on Wednesday even more than he did on Tuesday, which he had said was the first day he was able to properly loosen up his shoulder after throwing from 60 feet.
"Yesterday was light catch just to kind of get everything moving again, and today I backed it up, stretched it out a little bit and started to work the kinks out," Verlander said. "Today felt better, and I suspect tomorrow should feel even better than today. And today was positive."
Head athletic trainer Kevin Rand confirmed on Wednesday that the specifics of Verlander's inflammation involved shoulder capsulitis, biceps tendinosis and some tendinitis. Verlander and Rand said that's all natural wear-and-tear for a power pitcher who's been in the Majors as long as the right-hander.
Verlander said he thinks the inflammation might have resulted from his arm not staying aligned with the rest of his body when pitching, leading to overcompensation and stress on his shoulder. But he doesn't expect it to be a problem going forward.
"I'm hoping that it's something that I won't have to deal with the rest of the year," Verlander said.
David Adler is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.