Justin Verlander throws off a mound, expects to be ready for the start of the 2014 season

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Tigers ace Justin Verlander underwent surgery in January after injuring a core muscle during offseason conditioning and the initial expectation was that he’d be behind his fellow rotation mates when spring training began. But that might not be the case.

According to beat writer Chris Iott of MLive.com, the right-hander threw 20 pitches off a mound Monday at the Tigers’ spring training complex in Lakeland, Florida and told reporters afterward that the workout went “very well.” Verlander has mapped out a plan with Tigers pitching coach Jeff Jones that should allow him to appear in five Grapefruit League games and to take the mound on Opening Day (March 31) against the Royals.

Verlander, 30, posted a 3.46 ERA and 217 strikeouts in 218 1/3 innings last season for Detroit.

Beyond the conditioning injury, it’s safe to say that he spent his offseason wisely (via Getty):

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Braves claim Grant Dayton off waivers from Dodgers

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The Braves claimed lefty reliever Grant Dayton off waivers from the Dodgers, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports.

Dayton, 29, underwent Tommy John surgery back in August and is almost certainly out for the entire 2018 season. The Braves, obviously, are making a longer-term play here by acquiring him, as he is under team control through 2022.

Over parts of two seasons in the majors, Dayton has a 3.42 career ERA with 59 strikeouts and 18 walks in 50 innings.