LAKELAND, Fla. -- Justin Verlander's first spring start was washed out by rain, so the Detroit ace threw in the batting cage -- and made up his own pitching line afterward.
"Ten up, 10 down, 10 strikeouts," Verlander said.
The spring training game between the Tigers and Philadelphia Phillies was canceled because of rain Thursday, leaving Verlander still without an appearance during spring training. The right-hander had surgery in January following a groin injury, but he was finally supposed to start when the weather intervened.
Rather than push Verlander back a day, the Tigers had him throw in the cage.
"You still get the work in," Verlander said. "I tried to take it like a game. The only thing I didn't do was long toss. I went through my pregame routine without any batters in there, did everything I normally do, and then had guys step in. So I tried to simulate as much as possible. ... I did the national anthem and everything."
The game was called a few minutes after the scheduled start, after steady rain had left puddles all around the warning track.
Verlander tried to replicate game conditions in the cage. He even had hitters stand in, although they didn't swing.
"I think I threw 45 (pitches) to hitters," Verlander said. "And I did my normal pregame routine, which is probably somewhere around 40 pitches."
Verlander went 13-12 with a 3.46 ERA last year, an ordinary season by his recent standards. He did pitch brilliantly in the playoffs, but now he's hopeful an unnoticed injury around his midsection was responsible for some of his struggles.
He says he'd like his mechanics to be closer to what they looked like in 2012 -- even last year's postseason isn't what he's hoping for. He said he noticed more tilt in his shoulders at a certain point in his motion last season.
"I threw like this for a year, so my body wants to fall back into that, naturally," Verlander said. "It's a whole year worth of muscle memory that I'm fighting right now."
Verlander said there was no radar gun in the cage, so it's hard to get a sense of where his velocity is.
"I say I'm fighting against a year's worth of muscle memory, but I also have eight, 10, 12 years before that of muscle memory that my body knows as well," he said. "So work through what I'm working through now, and then all of a sudden my body's going to be like, `OK, yeah, that feels right. That's right. That's the way you used to throw."
Verlander says he figures he'll start Tuesday's game against Toronto on schedule.