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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Video: Rhys Hoskins gets revenge against Jacob Rhame with homer, slooooow trot

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Wednesday night’s Phillies-Mets game did not feature any beanballs or benches-clearing brawls, but it did feature Rhys Hoskins getting his revenge against Jacob Rhame. Last night, Rhame threw a fastball up-and-in at Hoskins. Rhame maintained his innocence, though Hoskins was skeptical.

Hoskins got a chance for revenge against Rhame in the ninth inning with the Phillies already ahead 4-0. Bryce Harper drew a leadoff walk. Hoskins then worked a 1-1 count before drilling a 95 MPH fastball over the left field fence for a two-run home run. Hoskins milked his accomplishment, taking a 34-second stroll around the bases. For a point of comparison, MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo notes that noted speedster Bartolo Colón had a 30.5-second trot around the bases after homering in 2016. MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki notes that Hoskins’ longest home run trot prior to this was clocked at 28.88 seconds. Wednesday’s trot was the first this season above 30 seconds across the league.

The dinger is Hoskins’ seventh of the season. He also walked and tripled in Wednesday’s 6-0 win. On the season, Hoskins is now batting .273/.402/.580 with 20 RBI and 18 runs scored in 107 plate appearances.