Verlander expected to play catch Monday

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 25, 2014 at 2:32 pm •  Published: January 25, 2014

DETROIT (AP) — The Detroit Tigers enter spring training with a level of optimism befitting their three straight AL Central titles.

There are a few concerns, though. For one thing, the team's two biggest stars are coming off surgery.

Slugger Miguel Cabrera seems fine after battling through a number of injuries toward the end of last season, and ace Justin Verlander is expected to play catch Monday, less than three weeks after having core muscle repair surgery.

"Miggy, by all accounts, feels great. He's been OK'd to do pretty much everything," said Brad Ausmus, who begins his managerial career with the Tigers this season. "Justin obviously, because it's certainly more recent, it's a little bit more of a gray area. He, again, all the reports from (trainer) Kevin Rand, he's doing great."

General manager Dave Dombrowski says he doesn't anticipate Verlander missing any starts this season, but he can't promise anything. Verlander had surgery Jan. 9 after hurting himself in December during offseason conditioning.

"If it's the natural healing process, which it is at this point, I think he will be ready," Dombrowski said.

The Tigers held their annual TigerFest event at Comerica Park on Saturday, although Cabrera and Verlander weren't there. Cabrera did talk for a bit earlier in the week, at the start of the team's winter caravan.

"I'm feeling great right now," Cabrera said. "Let's see what's going to happen this year — try to get my work done in spring training and try to be ready for the season."

The Tigers revealed after last season that Cabrera had been limited down the stretch by a tear in his groin. He still hit .348 with 44 home runs and 137 RBIs, winning his second straight MVP award. Cabrera batted .262 with two home runs in 11 postseason games before Detroit was eliminated by Boston in the AL championship series.

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