By Will Burchfield
DETROIT – Justin Verlander couldn’t pitch out of the third inning on Sunday, undone by a tight right groin, but the Tigers don’t expect him to miss any time.
The decision to take him out of the game was precautionary.
“His groin just tightened up on him a little bit, we don’t think it’s anything major,” said Brad Ausmus, who visited Verlander on the mound with team trainer Kevin Rand in both the second inning and the third.
Verlander got a “precautionary MRI,” according to Ausmus, and the Tigers are confident it will come back clean. They expect him to make his next scheduled start, Friday at Boston.
“As of right now we do. Obviously we’ll know more tomorrow,” Ausmus said.
He added it’s possible the Tigers could use their off-day on Monday to push Verlander’s start back to Saturday.
Coming off a dominant start in Kansas City, Verlander labored through two-plus innings of work on Sunday versus the White Sox. He threw 39 pitches in the first, 27 in the second and six more in the third before he was lifted from the game. He surrendered two runs on six hits and three walks.
Verlander alerted pitching coach Rich Dubee after the first inning that he didn’t feel 100 percent.
“We had our eye on him. Obviously made a couple trips (to the mound) and after the walk (in the third) I just felt like, we don’t wanna lose this guy for any real length of time,” said Ausmus.
Per his nature, Verlander fought hard to stay in the game.
“He didn’t want to come out. He said he felt like he could keep pitching, but I didn’t want him to be protecting his groin and then have something else be affected like his shoulder or something like that. So that was my call,” Ausmus said.
Sunday marked Verlander’s shortest start since lasting just one inning versus the Pirates in August of 2014. It was the fourth time in his career he was unable to record more than six outs.
In other injury news, Ian Kinsler is set to return on Tuesday for the start of a three-game series versus the Angels. He has been on the 10-day disabled list with a strained hamstring. The Tigers have yet to make a corresponding roster move.