DETROIT – Tigers ace Justin Verlander underwent muscle repair surgery Thursday after injuring himself last month during offseason conditioning.
Dr. Bill Meyers in Philadelphia performed the operation on Verlander, who is expected to need six weeks of rehab before being evaluated again. The first workout for Detroit’s pitchers and catchers at spring training is scheduled for Feb. 14. The first spring training game is Feb. 25 against Florida Southern.
“We fully anticipate Justin to participate in spring training and be in a position to compete at the beginning of the 2014 season,” general manager Dave Dombrowski said in a statement.
The team did not identify the “core muscle” that was repaired, but called the surgery successful. Verlander turns 31 on Feb. 20.
The Tigers said Verlander hurt himself at the end of December. There was also a message posted on Verlander’s Twitter account:
“Thanks for the support regarding my surgery today,” it said. “It went well and now my only focus is to get ready for 2014! #determined”
Verlander went 13-12 last year with a 3.46 ERA for the AL Central champions. He has been Detoit’s opening day starter for the last six seasons, the longest active streak by any player with one team, according to STATS. If Verlander isn’t at full strength for Detroit’s regular-season opener against Kansas City on March 31, the Tigers do have Max Scherzer, the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner.
One of Verlander’s biggest assets is his durability. The right-hander has thrown at least 200 innings seven seasons in a row.
Verlander’s surgery was performed by the same doctor who operated on Detroit teammate Miguel Cabrera after the slugger was limited down the stretch last season by a tear in his groin.
Two years ago, the Tigers lost designated hitter Victor Martinez for the entire 2012 season after an offseason injury. Martinez hurt his knee.
Verlander’s injury does not appear to be nearly as serious, but the Tigers now enter the 2014 season with two of their biggest stars coming off surgery.
Tanaka in U.S. for talks
New York AP
Free agent pitcher Masahiro Tanaka has arrived in the United States to meet with major league teams.
Big league clubs have until 5:00 p.m. on Jan. 24 to sign the star 25-year-old right-hander.
Tanaka was 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA last year for the Japan Series champion Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, who made him available under the new posting system.
He is being represented by agent Casey Close and plans to have a physical in the U.S. that can be reviewed by MLB clubs.
Under the new posting system, the fee payable to the Japanese team is capped at $20 million and the player can negotiate with all big league teams willing to pay the posting amount.
BBWAA boots Le Batard
New York AP
Dan Le Batard was kicked out of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America for one year and barred from future Hall of Fame votes after he turned over his 2014 ballot to a website that allowed readers to choose the selections.
The decision was made Thursday by the BBWAA board of directors, a day after Le Batard said he let Deadspin.com cast his ballot.
“The BBWAA regards Hall of Fame voting as the ultimate privilege, and any abuse of that privilege is unacceptable,” the organization said in a statement.
Le Batard, is an ESPN host and Miami Herald columnist.