Justin Verlander: Triceps feels 'better'

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Justin Verlander played catch briefly Sunday morning for the first time since leaving a start with a cramp in his right triceps, but it remained unclear when the Detroit Tigers ace would pitch again.

Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said Verlander did some light tossing at the team's spring training camp at Lakeland and still felt "a little bit tight," but otherwise reported some general improvement.

"He felt better today," Ausmus said before the Tigers' game Sunday with the Philadelphia Phillies. "Not completely better, but he feels better than he did yesterday."

Asked if that meant better or "a little" better, Ausmus replied: "He said, 'better,' when I asked him."

Verlander is still tentatively scheduled to make his final spring start Thursday against the New York Yankees, but the Tigers remain unsure whether he will make it. They also have begun to kick around options to push back his first start of the season, which is currently scheduled for Wednesday, April 8, which would be the Tigers' second game of the season.

David Price already has been named the team's Opening Day starter.

"With the off day [April 7], we could conceivably pitch him on Sunday (April 12) against Cleveland, so he'd get those extra four days," Ausmus said. "So we could give him a little extra time if necessary. We're not there yet."

Verlander left his start Friday against Toronto in the third inning. Prior to his injury, Verlander's fastball had been clocked from 94 to 96 mph, his best velocity readings of the spring. Both the Tigers' staff and opposing scouts have said it was the best he'd thrown in two years.

Although the injury is still being described as a "cramp," Ausmus said the Tigers still haven't ruled out the possibility that it was a strain. Verlander did not speak to the media Sunday, but told reporters Saturday that his level of concern about the injury was low.

"It's really how it bounces back in the next couple days," he told reporters. "That will 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. It would just be a matter of how long it would take to get back to throwing, whether it's a day or a few days."