DETROIT -- Justin Verlander suffered an injury during his offseason conditioning program in late December and had successful core muscle repair surgery in Philadelphia this morning.
The Detroit Tigers announced that Verlander will undergo six weeks of physical rehabilitation, but is expected to be ready for the start of the 2014 season.
Dr. Bill Meyers performed the procedure on Verlander and also performed a similar surgery on Miguel Cabrera in late October.
Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said during a phone interview Friday with the Free Press that he's not overly concerned.
"Despite the fact this is a little bit of a setback physically, his previous workouts will probably allow him to catch up to speed much quicker," Ausmus said.
Verlander is known for being very diligent in his off-season conditioning and has been a workhorse for the Tigers over the past eight seasons. Verlander, who turns 31 on Feb. 20, has been the Opening Day starter for the Tigers for each of the past six seasons.
"We fully anticipate Justin to participate in spring training and be in a position to compete at the beginning of the 2014 season," Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski said in a statement.
Verlander tweeted on Thursday: "Thanks for the support regarding my surgery today. It went well and now my only focus is to get ready for 2014! #determined "
Dr. Brian Rill, director of sports medicine at Henry Ford Hospital, said if Verlander had surgery for a sports hernia, the time needed to rehab properly should not prevent him from being ready by the start of the season.
"They say core muscle repair, that's exactly what it is," Rill said of a sports hernia. "It could have been a hip flexor tear, but they would have said hip flexor tear. They wouldn't have said core muscle repair. ...it could have been one of the other oblique muscles, but the recovery, rehab and surgery would all be very similar."
And six weeks should be plenty of time to recover, Rill said.
"Professional athletes, who can really dedicate their resources to recovering from the sports hernia, the average recovery time is actually from four to six weeks," Rill said. "It can take up to three months to get better, but that's kind of unusual for your professional-type athlete. Honestly, he might be just a little bit behind. As far as putting him behind for potentially starting the season, I don't think this will do that really."
Verlander has made at least 30 starts in each of the last eight seasons. He has topped 200 innings in each of the last seven seasons. He has struck out more than 200 hitters in each of the last five seasons.
Despite struggles last season, he pitched 218 1/3 innings and finished 13-12 with a 3.26 ERA and 217 strikeouts.
Ausmus, a major league catcher for 18 seasons, said he wasn't sure how common the injury suffered by Verlander was for a pitcher.
Asked how concerned he was that Verlander wouldn't be there for the start of spring training, Ausmus said: "I'm not overly concerned about it. Fortunately, we're still deep enough into the off-season that there's a possibility that he'll be ready for the opening of the season."
Ausmus added: "I don't say this lightly, we're going to take every precaution to make sure he's prepared. As much as we want Justin Verlander for 162 games, there is a difference between April 5th and September 5th. We want to make sure he's around September 5th."
Ausmus said Verlander takes a lot of pride in pitching every fifth day.
"That, combined with the fact that he's got a very strong work ethic, probably bodes very well in the recovery of this injury," Ausmus said.
As for Cabrera, Ausmus said he got an update two days ago from Kevin Rand, the team's athletic trainer.
"Everything's going great," Ausmus said. "We expect Miggy to be 100% by the start of spring training."
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