When the Detroit Tigers start the 2014 season, they will likely have Justin Verlander in their starting rotation from day one.
Reports have gotten progressively more hopeful ever since the Tigers wondered last month if Verlander would be forced to miss part of the season after core surgery this winter. Verlander threw on Tuesday, and then spoke about his prospects for being healthy by Opening Day (quotes from Jason Beck at MLB.com):
“I’ve just got to adjust, take it as it comes, do what I can when I can do it…I’m just kind of treating this like last year. Last year was a grind, and I kept telling you guys every day when I realized things weren’t right and I had a lot of work to do, my goal was I need to be ready for the playoffs. And I was able to achieve that. I got ready and was pitching to what I expected to pitch to in the playoffs…
“…My goal now is the start of the season. Whether that’s Game 1 or what, I don’t know, but I intend to be ready.”
Max Scherzer will likely get the Opening Day nod by virtue of his 2013 performance as well as his health, but it sounds like Verlander won’t be far behind him. That sets up the Tigers with one of the best 1-2 punches in baseball once again to go along with a loaded roster that should be poised for another run at an AL pennant.