Detroit Tigers pitching coach Jeff Jones says ace pitcher Justin Verlander is "way ahead of schedule" in his return from offseason muscle repair surgery, reports George Sippel of the Detroit Free Press.

Verlander suffered the injury while doing squats in December. Though he originally believed it to be a mild muscle strain. An MRI a couple of weeks later showed that he had actually suffered damage to both sides of his groin. He had surgery on the injury Jan. 9.

The Tigers had Verlander throw 20 pitches off the mound on Monday, after which he reportedly felt good. Jones has been working with him to create a plan for his return that involves Verlander making five starts in spring training.