May 14th, 2012
Ryan Raburn gets it. He’s frustrated, too. He was looking for better than this, especially after hitting six home runs in the first half of Spring Training.
He knows his history of strong second half numbers as well as anybody, but it doesn’t make it any easier for him.
“No, it’s not at all,” Raburn said, interrupting the question. “I felt so great early in the spring. Even in the beginning of the season, I felt great. I worked so hard to try to get off to a better start and everything, and just everything kind of snowballed. Like I said, it’s a long year. It’s a daily grind. Hopefully these last few games, hitting some balls hard, definitely can build on it. Mainly, hopefully, they start falling in.”
Hopefully, he said, his ninth-inning double is the start of the turnaround, even though his two strikeouts earlier felt like a continuation of the struggles.
“It’s an irritating routine I’ve had for the past few years, you know,” he said, “but it’s definitely something I’ve dealt with and gone through before. So it’s nothing new, just it’s not real fun. Like I said, you just keep battling and grinding it out, and eventually it’s going to click and hopefully today was the start of it.”
One thing that was noticeable: He stopped himself when he was about to use the word luck, then used a different term.
“I’ve hit some balls good,” he said, “just haven’t had much … the results haven’t quite been there.”
Raburn also drew the second of the three straight two-out walks from A’s pitchers that drove in the Tigers’ go-ahead run. The 1-for-3 outing raised his batting average to .135, about the same level where he has been every other day for the past week and a half. He’s just 12-for-89 on the season, five of them for doubles.
The thing about a callous on a pitcher’s finger is that many of them pitch with it just fine, as long as it doesn’t bust open. Some pitchers will try to throw enough with one so that it hardens and doesn’t bother them once they have to pitch in a real game.
Verlander’s issue Sunday caught him by surprise, and it sure caught the Tigers by surprise. Verlander was worried enough about it that he went upstairs from the dugout and into the clubhouse to try to hide it from view.
“I looked down there towards the end of the seventh inning and it was bleeding,” Verlander said. “So when I came out of the seventh, I knew that I’d be going back out [normally], but I told [pitching coach] Jeff [Jones] and the trainers to come up with me … because I obviously don’t want to alert the whole world that I might have something going on.
“We got up here, we talked about it. After getting up here and working on it, I think it’s going to be fine.”
Jones and Jim Leyland seemed to think Verlander opened it up on changeups, though they weren’t certain on that.
If it was a specific pitch, though, then why wasn’t it an issue for Verlander in past starts, or past seasons?
“I wouldn’t say it’s been bothering me,” he said. “I’ve just been cognizant of it. I don’t why it’s something that’s never happened to me before, but it seems like maybe every start kind of wears [the skin] down a little bit. This is the first one, really, where it’s kind of blown up on me, where I’ve had any physical issue with it. I’ve been able to deal with it fine. I’m not worried about it going forward.”
Verlander went into a little bit of detail about the process of building it up before it gets knocked down.
“Usually I go a couple starts and nothing happens,” he said, “and then when I feel like I’m in the clear, it rips on me, and I don’t really know why. I really felt like I had a pretty good callous built up. Last time it happened was like two or three starts ago, not quite as bad. So we’re going to talk about some things, hopefully get it back to where the callous is there and then find some ways to protect it, maybe use some moisturizer so it’s not so dry there, so that it won’t just rip on me.”