Verlander felt good, still struggles
That chuckle coming from Justin Verlander after his start wasn’t simply about giving up a tape-measure home run to Phillies prospect Domonic Brown. It was how the numbers ended up versus the way he felt going in and the way he felt he pitched.
“It’s funny, but I felt heads and shoulders better today than I have,” Verlander said. “I was really pleased with today. The numbers, I could care less about those. I feel like I was throwing the ball really well. Changeup, breaking ball were a lot better. Fastball felt like it had more life. I’m definitely excited. What went on out there, I got done what I wanted to get done.”
Manager Jim Leyland said later he felt like Verlander got a little too fastball-happy.
“I thought he pitched some hitters real good and then he just threw hard to some hitters,” Leyland said. “He did some great pitching work and then some not-so-good pitching work.”
Part of that sentiment might have been centered on Verlander’s at-bat with Ryan Howard. Verlander said he threw fastballs because he’d been having trouble this spring getting fastballs in on left-handed hitters. Howard turned on one and sent it out to right for a two-run homer.
“He made the adjustment,” Verlander said. “He realized what I was doing. He got his foot down and barreled one. But hey, it is what it is.”