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Verlander throws 54 pitches in bullpen session

LAKELAND, Fla. -- While more than a half-dozen Tigers pitchers, all of them relievers, prepared to throw to hitters for the first time this spring on the back fields at Tigertown, Justin Verlander was throwing to a catcher's mitt in the home bullpen behind the right-field fence at Joker Marchant Stadium.

Verlander reportedly came through the bullpen session feeling fine. He felt well enough to top his pitch count again, throwing 54 pitches after being scheduled for 45-50.

"He felt good," manager Brad Ausmus said. "[Pitching coach] Jeff Jones said he looked good."

Verlander was a limited participant in fielding drills later Tuesday morning.

"He has [been] for a couple days," Ausmus said. "I kind of forced him out of it yesterday just because of an abundance of caution."

His chance to face hitters will have to wait until later in the week. Not surprisingly, his first appearance in a Spring Training game will also likely be delayed. The initial schedule for starting pitchers next week does not include Verlander in the first turn through the rotation.

"We do have it mapped out, just because he's been on schedule," Ausmus said. "The question is, does he remain on schedule? So there's obviously some flexibility."

Jason Beck is a reporter for Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason.
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