Tigers’ Verlander struggles in first rehab start

VERLANDER: Detroit Tigers’ Justin Verlander pitches during a 2014 game. (Detroit Free Press photo)

VERLANDER: Detroit Tigers’ Justin Verlander pitches during a 2014 game. (Detroit Free Press photo)

INDIANAPOLIS — The long-awaited return for Justin Verlander took a much-needed step today.

A step on the pitcher’s mound in a professional game. Granted, it was for the Toledo Mud Hens.

For the first time in his career, Verlander made a rehab start in Triple-A Sunday. The Mud Hens visited Indianapolis and Verlander, donning a blue jersey with “Hens” across the front, threw 79 pitches in 2 2/3 innings.

He allowed three earned runs on six hits and two walks and a hit batter while striking out three. He threw 50 strikes.

In the first inning, Verlander gave up a one-out single but followed it by striking out former teammate Steve Lombardozzi and getting a ground out to short.

Things weren’t as smooth in the second. With one out, Verlander allowed a single and then back-to-back walks — the second to ex-Tigers prospect Gorkys Hernandez. Verlander then got a strikeout in a seven-pitch at bat on a full-count pitch, but then allowed a two-run double to left by Alen Hanson. After Verlander hit the next batter, Lombardozzi lined out to right.

Verlander opened the third by allowing back-to-back singles. After getting a three-pitch strikeout, Verlander gave up a single to load the bases and then a sac fly by Hernandez, scoring another run and ending Verlander’s day. He was replaced on the mound by Rafael Dolis.

It is unknown if or when Verlander will get another rehab start.

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Posted by Tribune News Services

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