Verlander leaves with right shoulder soreness
The Tigers handed the ball to Justin Verlander Monday night in desperate need of innings after Sunday’s 19-inning marathon in Toronto. They ended up with the shortest start of Verlander’s career, and their second injury in four days to their star-studded rotation.
Verlander was removed from the Tigers’ series opener against the Pirates at PNC Park with what the team termed right shoulder soreness. He’ll be further evaluated on Tuesday.
It’s the first major injury concern of Verlander’s career. For all the pitches and innings the former AL Cy Young winner has thrown, Verlander has been remarkably durable, making at least 30 starts every full season in his big league career and at least 33 starts each season since 2008.
Verlander gave up five runs, four earned, on four hits in his only inning, his cause hindered by two errors and another outfield misplay behind him. His fastball sat in the low-90s, which isn’t unusual for him in the first inning, but was clearly hittable.
At one point, with the Tigers bullpen quickly warming, head athletic trainer Kevin Rand visited the mound, seeing some reason for concern, but Verlander said he was fine.
Verlander finished out the inning, then was due to bat third in the second inning. However, both Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello seemed to be preparing to pinch-hit for Verlander. Both were caught on the television broadcast with bats and batting helmets in the dugout while Verlander stood in the on-deck circle.
Verlander ended up stepping to the plate and laying down a sacrifice bunt. He then marched down and steps, through the dugout and into the clubhouse without pause. Meanwhile, Justin Miller continued to warm in Detroit’s bullpen.
Once the inning ended, Miller entered from the bullpen. Verlander never emerged back from the dugout.
The Tigers made three roster call-ups from Triple-A Toledo Monday afternoon to make sure they had enough available relievers for the game. With Tigers relievers needing to cover at least seven innings, more moves could soon be coming, this time potentially from Double-A Erie, less than two hours away from Pittsburgh. The SeaWolves were off on Monday.