2/21/2014 6:07 P.M. ET
After solid 'pen, live hitters likely next for Verlander
By Jason Beck / MLB.com
LAKELAND, Fla. -- One day after Justin Verlander hit 31, he threw 60. That was the pitch count in what should be his final bullpen session this spring before he's cleared to face live hitters.
While a handful of Tigers relievers threw their second session of live batting practice, Verlander threw 60 pitches Friday in the bullpen at Joker Marchant Stadium. The session went "very well," pitching coach Jeff Jones said.
In the process, Verlander essentially completed his catchup process to get on track with the rest of the Tigers' starters. As long as Verlander feels OK on Saturday, he'll be cleared to begin throwing to hitters on Monday, the day before the Tigers' first game against Florida Southern College.
Jones said Verlander will likely throw at least two sessions against hitters in camp before he's cleared for game action. That would put him in line to enter Grapefruit League play for the second turn through the Tigers' rotation and make five starts this spring.
Rondon misses day of workouts with illness
LAKELAND, Fla. -- The Tigers made it through a week of Spring Training workouts without a notable absence, but reliever Bruce Rondon was missing Friday.
Manager Brad Ausmus said Friday afternoon that the hard-throwing reliever was sent home from Tigertown with illness before workouts began.
"Rondon was sick today," Ausmus said. "Nothing major, but just to be safe, he was sent home."
Rondon was in the clubhouse at Joker Marchant Stadium Friday morning and took part in the Venezuelan Tigers' show of support for folks back home. Soon after that, he was spotted in street clothes leaving the facility.
"He was here, and there was some question whether he could go out or not," Ausmus said. "But I think in the end, the proper decision was made. … We don't want anything lingering or getting anyone else sick."
Ausmus said the illness probably wasn't enough to be classified as flu-like symptoms.
Rondon was not scheduled to throw Friday. He threw a full session of live batting practice on Thursday, which would put him on track to throw again on Sunday.
Ausmus addressing instant-replay questions with MLB
LAKELAND, Fla. -- Tigers officials were finally set to receive some clarity on the newly approved instant replay setup on Friday. Manager Brad Ausmus, bench coach Gene Lamont and defensive coordinator Matt Martin were scheduled to meet with Tony La Russa and Joe Torre from Major League Baseball to discuss the new setup.
The meeting in nearby Kissimmee included representatives from the Braves, Astros and Nationals.
"The staff and myself have spent the last few days hashing out questions that we have for them," Ausmus said. "But my gut says there'll be some minor changes when they finalize some things."
Ausmus said earlier in camp that Martin will be the point man on whether to challenge a call. He will not be in the dugout during games, but instead in a position to review video.
Tigers work on cutting time on basepaths
LAKELAND, Fla. -- The weather threatened to put a damper on Spring Training workouts for the first time this season on Friday, but that didn't turn out to be the case.
"We haven't had a bad day, but today was the best day," manager Brad Ausmus said. "Everything went smoothly, clean, not a lot of hiccups. The baserunning was outstanding."
The baserunning drills focused on clean, efficient paths around the bases, improving times without necessarily having to increase speed.
"Omar [Vizquel] and I have kind of been trying to stress cutting turns down, with the obvious goal of being aggressive and taking the extra base," Ausmus said. "This wasn't game action, but our effort around the bases was really, really outstanding."
Former Tiger Rogers helps Smyly with move to first
LAKELAND, Fla. -- Long before most Tigers players had taken the field to stretch Friday morning, Drew Smyly was on a mound on one of the back fields at Tigertown. He was working with former Tigers pitcher Kenny Rogers, one of the more maniacal Spring Training instructors the Tigers have had in recent years.
Rogers is working with the left-handed pitchers in camp on their moves to hold runners at first base, manager Brad Ausmus said.
Rogers also did some work with his old teammate, right-hander Justin Verlander.