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Verlander set for return after bullpen session

DETROIT -- Right-hander Justin Verlander will start Tuesday's game for the Tigers against the Pirates, manager Brad Ausmus confirmed after Sunday's 5-4 win over the White Sox.

Verlander, who missed his last scheduled start with a stiff back, threw a bullpen session on Saturday afternoon, and it went well, but Ausmus waited until Sunday to announce his rotation for the Pittsburgh series in case the righty endured any further complications.

After Verlander pitches Tuesday's series opener, Alfredo Simon will start Wednesday and Kyle Ryan on Thursday. Righty Anibal Sanchez will take the mound Friday against Toronto.

Verlander missed the first 2 1/2 months of the season with a right triceps strain, and he has made just two starts this year. The right-hander's back began bothering him on June 19, when he allowed six runs and threw 117 pitches against the Yankees.

Both Ausmus and Verlander have said the back stiffness wasn't a product of the high pitch count, though, and that the righty won't be limited when he returns.

"As long as he feels fine, I think we let him go," Ausmus said.

Avila rehab going well

Alex Avila went 1-for-3 with a solid single for Triple-A Toledo on Friday night in his first rehab appearance. More importantly, he had no complications while catching five innings in his first competitive action since being placed on the DL on May 8 with a loose body in his left knee.

"His knee didn't bother him at all," Ausmus said Saturday. "There's no after-effects. He said his legs weren't even tired from catching."

Avila was supposed to DH on Saturday, but the Mud Hens' game was rained out. He's scheduled to catch five innings on Sunday as part of an eight-day rehab stint. Ausmus said Sunday that there's no set target date yet for Avila's return to the Tigers.

"Right now, [Friday] is where we have him ending his rehab, but it doesn't meant his rehab will end there," Ausmus said. "Depends how he feels."

Alejandro Zúñiga is an associate reporter for Follow him on Twitter @ByAZuniga.
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