Tuesday’s lineups: Tigers vs. Pirates

  Aside from right field, where J.D. Martinez is off, this looks like the Opening Day lineup, including the Opening Day starter.

TIGERS

  1. Anthony Gose, CF
  2. Ian Kinsler, 2B
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
  4. Victor Martinez, DH
  5. Yoenis Cespedes, LF
  6. Alex Avila, C
  7. Nick Castellanos, 3B
  8. Jose Iglesias, SS
  9. Rajai Davis, RF

P: David Price, Joakim Soria, Ian Krol, Blaine Hardy, Bruce Rondon

PIRATES

  1. Jordy Mercer, SS
  2. Neil Walker, 2B
  3. Andrew McCutchen, CF
  4. Corey Hart, 1B
  5. Jung Ho Kang, 3B
  6. Francisco Cervelli, C
  7. Sean Rodriguez, RF
  8. Mel Rojas Jr., LF
  9. Vance Worley, P

P: Vance Worley

Monday’s lineups: Tigers vs. Braves

This looks a lot like the lineup to expect next Monday, including Yoenis Cespedes batting behind J.D. Martinez.

Bruce Rondon is on the pitching list for the game, but Brad Ausmus said he wasn’t sure if he’d be pitching. Joe Nathan, who was off the last few days dealing with a cut thumb, is definitely pitching.

TIGERS

  1. Anthony Gose, CF
  2. Ian Kinsler, 2B
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
  4. Victor Martinez, DH
  5. J.D. Martinez, RF
  6. Yoenis Cespedes, LF
  7. Alex Avila, C
  8. Nick Castellanos, 3B
  9. Jose Iglesias, SS

P: Alfredo Simon, Angel Nesbitt, Joe Nathan, Bruce Rondon?

BRAVES

  1. Todd Cunningham, CF
  2. Jace Peterson, 2B
  3. Nick Markakis, DH
  4. Freddie Freeman, 1B
  5. Jonny Gomes, LF
  6. Kelly Johnson, RF
  7. Chris Johnson, 3B
  8. Christian Bethancourt, C
  9. Andrelton Simmons, SS

P: Mike Foltynewicz

Verlander won’t be pitching Thursday (updated)

Justin Verlander won’t be pitching on Thursday as the Tigers had hoped, and when he pitches again is anyone’s guess.

“Especially [since] I didn’t throw today, I don’t think it’s very feasible that I can go out and pitch Thursday,” Verlander said Monday morning. “I think it’s a day-by-day thing.”

Verlander, who left his start last Friday after the third inning with what was termed as a cramp in his right triceps, threw on Sunday. He had some soreness again Monday, which scuttled any thought of throwing in the morning. That, in turn, scuttled any plans for Thursday.

“Once the soreness gets out of there, I’ve got to throw without soreness and get back into my throwing routine,” Verlander said. “These are all things we’ll have to address as it goes along.”

He continues to say he’s not altogether worried. Still, the soreness has lingered along enough to where it’s hard to classify it as a cramp anymore. At the least, it’s a mild strain.

“I really feel like today’s like the crest of the wave,” he said. “It’s gotten a little bit better every day and I feel like today the soreness is just kind of in one spot. It should start to work itself out pretty quickly.”

Shane Greene is now scheduled to start for the Tigers on Thursday against the Yankees, facing his former team at Joker Marchant Stadium. Wednesday is listed on Tigers game notes as TBA, but it would appear likely to be a bullpen day, allowing a slew of relievers to get in work.

Verlander is scheduled to pitch the second game of the regular season against the Twins at Comerica Park. If he doesn’t pitch by Friday of this week, then he’ll probably have to be pushed back from that as well. Verlander did not want to set Friday as a deadline, given that he had stretched out his pitch count pretty well before last Friday. He also was cautious to call his situation frustrating, given the way he was throwing Friday before the injury.

“I’m frustrated that I can’t get out there and throw,” he said, “and yeah, I want to, especially with my personality. But a lot of the reason I’m optimistic — and I don’t want to say I’m happy about it — but I think strangely, this kind of falls to what I was talking about. A lot of the adjustments I made, I’m getting back to being the person that I am, or throwing the way that I throw. I haven’t done that in a while. It takes some adjustments. …

“Honestly, I’m kind of using these few days as a jolt to the system to get refreshed, just let my body kind of recover as much as it can.”

Since next Tuesday is an off-day following the April 6 opener, Detroit technically doesn’t need a fifth starter until April 12. That would require David Price pitching on regular rest and starting April 11 in Cleveland. Thus, the Tigers could put Verlander on the disabled list and backdate it to March 28, the day after he left the game in Dunedin, and have him eligible to be activated for April 12. That would allow them to carry another reliever for the first five games if they so chose.

Tigers option Holaday, Collins, essentially set positional roster

The Tigers positional roster is now all but set, including catcher James McCann and utility guys Andrew Romine and Hernan Perez.

The team made most of its final decisions Monday, optioning catcher Bryan Holaday and outfielder Tyler Collins to Triple-A Toledo. Both made last season’s Opening Day roster, and both were in competition to do the same this year.

Also sent to minor-league camp were non-roster invites Jordan Lennerton, Aaron Westlake, Jefry Marte, Xavier Avery, Jason Krizan and Manny Pina.

The moves leave veteran infielder Josh Wilson, also a non-roster invite, as the one extra position player in camp. Manager Brad Ausmus has talked about him all spring as an insurance option.

The remaining decisions for Detroit’s Opening Day roster are in the bullpen, where three relievers must be sent out. Among those in competition are Blaine Hardy, Ian Krol, Angel Nesbitt, Bruce Rondon and Kyle Ryan, believed to be for two spots. Rondon and Nesbitt are scheduled to pitch in Monday’s game against the Braves.

Holaday spent the entire 2014 season in Detroit, catching 62 games, but McCann is seen with a higher potential, particularly on offense. His present didn’t hurt either, batting .371 (13-for-35) this spring. The 24-year-old was a September call-up last year and made an impression on team officials when he caught a well-pitched game from Justin Verlander on Sept. 19 in Kansas City.

“It was definitely a big confidence-building game,” McCann said. “One, it was a huge game [in the division race] at the time. And being on the road, catching Verlander for the first time in a game — I never even caught him in a Spring Training game — and the success that we had together being able to get on the same page, that was definitely a confidence boost to build on this spring.”

McCann is expected to get the bulk of his starts against left-handed starts in a platoon with veteran Alex Avila.

“I would say Alex will probably get more playing time at this point going into the season,” Ausmus said. “Now, that could change, but certainly McCann will see some left-handed pitching, and he’d have to see some right-handed pitching just because he could be sitting on the bench.”

Both Perez and Romine are backups at this point. However, they’re backups at several positions, having added first base and outfield work to their infield duties this spring. They’re even seen as emergency catchers; Perez will get an inning or two behind the plate in a minor-league game Monday, Ausmus said, while Romine is expected to do the same Tuesday.

The two were viewed in competition when camp began. With Detroit’s four-man outfield rotation largely set, however, Ausmus came around to the idea of keeping both at the expense of Collins, who struggled with limited playing time last April.

“He understood that just sitting on the bench, getting one or two at-bats a week, wouldn’t be good for him,” Ausmus said. “It would be better for him to be playing every day, should something happen to one of our outfielders, he can come up and fill that spot.”

Sunday’s lineups: Tigers at Phillies

The Tigers’ efforts to get Victor Martinez at-bats hit a road block: The Phillies did not give them approval to use the designated hitter. It’s the home team’s call when an American League team visits a National League team, and while it usually gets approval early in the spring, it becomes more of a question later once NL teams need to get their starting pitchers at-bats and don’t have as many extra position players. Still, it’s a surprise, considering three NL teams last week — the Pirates, Nationals and Braves — allowed Detroit to use a DH while not using one themselves.

“That’s their call, and that’s fine,” said Ausmus, noting that Anibal Sanchez could use a time or two at the plate to get ready for his second regular-season start at Pittsburgh next month.

On the other side, the Phillies pitching list includes closer Jonathan Papelbon and former Tiger Andy Oliver, who’s trying to make the Phillies bullpen as a Rule 5 pick. With 10 innings of two-run ball on five hits along with 18 strikeouts (albeit seven walks), he’s got a shot.

Today’s game is on MLB.TV through Comcast SportsNet Philly. It’ll be rebroadcast on MLB Network at midnight for all you night owls. You can also listen to the radio broadcast online, or over the air in Detroit on 97.1.

TIGERS

  1. Rajai Davis, CF
  2. Tyler Collins, RF
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
  4. Yoenis Cespedes, LF
  5. James McCann, C
  6. Jefry Marte, 3B
  7. Hernan Perez, SS
  8. Josh Wilson, 2B
  9. Anibal Sanchez, P

P: Anibal Sanchez, Blaine Hardy, Angel Nesbitt

PHILLIES

  1. Ben Revere, LF
  2. Russ Canzler, 3B
  3. Chase Utley, 2B
  4. Ryan Howard, 1B
  5. Carlos Ruiz, C
  6. Odubel Herrera, CF
  7. Jeff Francoeur, RF
  8. Freddy Galvis, SS
  9. Aaron Harang, P

P: Aaron Harang, Jeanmar Gomez, Jonathan Papelbon, Justin De Fratus, Andy Oliver

Verlander: Triceps soreness feels same as yesterday

Justin Verlander said Saturday morning he feels similar tightness in his right triceps to what forced him out of his Grapefruit League start Friday, though he said his level of concern remains low.

“Pretty low,” Verlander said, “especially with the time we have [before next start], extra day and can even manipulate things forward if need be.”

Verlander is tentatively scheduled to start on Thursday against the Yankees at Joker Marchant Stadium, marking his Spring Training finale. He has another extra day of rest scheduled before his season debut, slated for April 8 against the Twins in the Tigers’ second game of the season.

Verlander was an early arrival at Joker Marchant Stadium on Saturday morning and met with head athletic trainer Kevin Rand. He did not have an MRI exam or any other tests. His treatment so far has been limited to ice, and he was in the outfield during batting practice.

Verlander’s injury remains listed as a right triceps cramp, though Verlander said the next couple days will indicate whether it’s a cramp or a strain.

“We kind of all assumed I’d be sore today,” he said. “It’s really [a question of] how it bounces back in the next couple days. That’ll tell us a lot more about the injury, I guess, whether it’s a mild strain or whether it was just a cramp. Either way, even if it was just a very mild strain, it’s still like I said, very mild. It’s nothing that would hold me out for an extended period of time.”

Saturday’s lineups: Tigers vs. Cardinals

Take a good look at the batting order today, because there’s a decent chance it’ll be the same thing you’ll see through your starry eyes on Opening Day April 6. Anthony Gose continues to look like a good pick to lead off, moving Ian Kinsler to the much-debated two spot and Alex Avila to seventh. Brad Ausmus hasn’t committed to a spot in the order for J.D. Martinez and Yoenis Cespedes, but Martinez has batted in front of Cespedes every time they’ve started together this week.

On the Cardinals side, Jhonny Peralta returns to Lakeland, as does former Tigers first-round pick Scott Moore (8th overall pick in 2002).

TIGERS

  1. Anthony Gose, CF
  2. Ian Kinsler, 2B
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
  4. Victor Martinez, DH
  5. J.D. Martinez, RF
  6. Yoenis Cespedes, LF
  7. Alex Avila, C
  8. Nick Castellanos, 3B
  9. Jose Iglesias, SS

P: Shane Greene, Al Alburquerque, Ian Krol, Kyle Ryan, Angel Nesbitt

CARDINALS

  1. Jon Jay, CF
  2. Kolten Wong, 2B
  3. Randal Grichuk, RF
  4. Matt Adams, 1B
  5. Jhonny Peralta, SS
  6. Mark Reynolds, 3B
  7. Scott Moore, DH
  8. Tony Cruz, C
  9. Peter Bourjos, LF

P: Lance Lynn

Verlander Saturday morning update: No update

Justin Verlander was an early arrival at the Tigers clubhouse Saturday morning, settled into his locker and checked in with head athletic trainer Kevin Rand. As of mid-morning, however, there was nothing official on his status.

“As of right now, I have no reason not to expect him to pitch in his next start,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “Of course, I also told you I don’t have any new information, so take that for what it’s worth.”

That can play both ways. The fact that there’s no new information suggests no new tests have been ordered. Indeed, Ausmus said there has been no MRI ordered as far as he knows. The flip side, of course, is that there’s no indication Verlander is feeling any better today than he did when he left the game Friday with tightness in his biceps triceps.

The Tigers are still classifying it as a cramp.

On Verlander’s encouraging day and its abrupt end

If Justin Verlander has a serious arm injury, he had an odd day to get one.

For two innings, the pitches Verlander delivered to Blue Jays batters were impressive enough to wonder whether the radar gun readings — 95-96 mph for Verlander in his opening inning, 94-95 in the second — were legit at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium. Blue Jays writers attested that the radar, while maybe a tick off, wasn’t as generous as other spots.

“I felt great,” Verlander said. “I felt really good early. … Really, I couldn’t tell you I was putting much effort in early either. After the first inning I was like, ‘All right, let’s back down and just kind of cruise,’ and it was still coming out 93-94. That’s a big positive. That’s kind of the way I used to feel, my nice-and-easy range. Way-back-off was 91-92. Nice and easy was 94-95. And then when I wanted to really go get it, that’s when it was 99-100. So all that’s really positive.

“Curveball was excellent. The one I threw to [Russell] Martin was probably the best one I threw in two years.”

Once Bruce Rondon registered 95-97 mph in the fifth inning, Verlander’s readings loomed larger.

“Best I’ve seen him,” manager Brad Ausmus said.

“Period?”

“No, you can put an exclamation point if you want.”

The velocity dropped in the third inning, when Verlander said the cramp began to flare up. His fastball dropped to the low 90s, and he mixed in more offspeed stuff, as much of a mix as a half-dozen pitches in an inning will allow.

“I don’t really know what to tell you, besides I just felt crampy,” he said. “My whole body just kind of feels tight. I think it was a combination of things. I think with the mechanical adjustments I made, I might be using my muscles just slightly different. And also, I don’t think I hydrated myself as well as I should have today.”

It still wasn’t easy for him to admit.

“What was really hard for me,” Verlander said, “was to call them out. If it was regular season, I don’t know if I would’ve. I kind of battled myself mentally out there with that aspect of it. I threw a few pitches to see if it was better, and it stayed about the same. And then I’m out there thinking, ‘Well, this is Spring Training. There’s no reason to battle through it and risk an injury if it it’s not injured.'”

That’s when he signaled for pitching coach Jeff Jones, who brought manager Brad Ausmus and trainer Matt Rankin with him. And that’s when Verlander’s encouraging day came to an abrupt end. If it’s nothing more than a cramp, then he’ll be back out there next Thursday. Whether the stuff is the same might be the bigger mystery until then.

“That’s where I want to be,” he said. “Those first two innings are a great sign. I felt like myself, funny to say.

“I do leave today feeling like that’s where I want to be. But obviously there’s a little bit lingering in the back of your head hoping that doesn’t reoccur. And obviously now I’m going to take precautions.”

Verlander leaves start with right triceps cramp

Justin Verlander left his start against the Blue Jays on Friday with a cramp in his right triceps after running to cover first base on a third-inning ground ball.

Verlander will be evaluated further on Friday. At this point, however, he plans on making his final Spring Training start next week.

“I don’t think it’s an injury,” he said. “I just hope it’s not something that would linger and reoccur.”

Verlander, making his fifth start of the spring, looked strong until then, hitting 95-96 mph on the radar gun at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium. He broke quickly off the mound after Ryan Goins hit a grounder to first base for the second out of the third.

By that point, what began as a light rain at the park had picked up, leaving a damp field. The problem, however, wasn’t the footing, Verlander said, but the throwing.

“I don’t really know what to tell you, besides I just felt crampy,” Verlander said. “My whole body just kind of feels tight. I think it was a combination of things. I think with the mechanical adjustments I made, I might be using my muscles just slightly different. And also, I don’t think I hydrated myself as well as I should have today.”

Verlander called to the dugout. Manager Brad Ausmus, pitching coach Jeff Jones and athletic trainer Matt Rankin quickly emerged from the dugout to meet him at the mound.

After a lengthy conference, Ausmus made the change. Kyle Ryan entered as Verlander walked back to the dugout with Rankin.

After Ryan finished the inning, Verlander jogged back to the clubhouse with his glove in his hand, seemingly not hindered.

Verlander threw just 40 pitches, 23 of them strikes, over his 2 2/3 innings. His only hit allowed was a Dalton Pompey home run in the second.

“I felt great. I felt really good early,” Verlander said. “Honestly, I didn’t really feel like I was putting much effort in early, either. … That’s a big positive. That’s kind of the way I used to feel.”

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