Leyland: Opponents have game plan vs. Verlander
Justin Verlander escaped his opening inning without allowing a run, but he needed 24 pitches to do it. He gave up three runs in the third, but his efficiency made Leyland happier than that inning than the opening one.
When Leyland talks about wanting quick innings, it isn’t difficult to surmise that Verlander is one of the targets. His high pitch counts and very high average pitches per inning last seaso nbecame something opponents pounced on, and Leyland sees the same approach coming into this year, including from the Yankees tonight.
“Particularly with a guy like Verlander,” Leyland said, “you can see that teams are going to try to make him pitch, to get his pitch count up. So strike one, it’s critical to every pitcher, but particularly to him, to get ahead. If he does that, with the stuff he’s got, then he ought to be able to go to work and get a lot of outs, and I think he will.
“But you can see what the plan is. You combat that plan by throwing strike one and throwing strike two. That takes that game plan away. Everybody knows he’s got good stuff, and they’re going to try to work him and get his pitch count up by the fifth inning.”
Leyland took out Verlander at exactly 50 pitches, 29 of them strikes, with two outs in the third. Though he gave up hits in the third, Leyland liked the efficiency. His mistake pitch, Leyland said, was a hanging breaking ball to Johnny Damon for an RBI double.
- Add Bobby Seay to the list of Tigers with minor injuries. He left tonight’s outing with a tight right quadriceps. His next turn to pitch, if he’s fine, would come during the two-game trip to Jupiter early next week.
- One more note on Joel Zumaya: Unlike Jeremy Bonderman, who started his progression back by playing catch the last couple days, Zumaya supposedly can go right back onto the mound in a couple days once the dye in his shoulder passes. That’s according to Leyland.
- Clete Thomas might be ready to return to the outfield sooner than originally planned. He’s currently throwing long toss at 150 feet, with the next step stretching him out to 180 feet. That could put him on track to beat the projected timetable of March 23 for when he’d be ready for outfield work. The sooner he can come back, the better his chances could be for making this team.