Verlander believes core injury led to mechanical issues
All last summer, Justin Verlander said he had until the playoffs to get things right. When he shut down the Athletics in Game 5 of the AL Division Series, he sounded like he was right where he wanted.
“I’m pitching the way I’m supposed to,” he said after that game. “I worked my butt off all year to try to get consistent and get myself where I needed to be.”
Now he says he wasn’t where he wanted to be, not mechanically at least, even during the postseason. After throwing his 45-pitch session inside the batting cages at Joker Marchant Stadium Thursday afternoon, he said he’s trying to erase the muscle memory of 2013 and get back to his 2012 form.
“The adjustments I’m trying to make are the way I used to throw, before last year,” he said.
It also might have been before the core muscle injuries that led to January surgery.
It’s the plurality of the injuries that have him now suspecting he was pitching injured last season. When he had the surgery, he said a few weeks ago, it took care of injuries on both sides. The left side was injured in offseason workouts. The right side was injured at some other point, and was almost as bad, when Dr. William Meyers examined him.
“Everything I felt when I injured myself was on my left side,” Verlander said. “There was nothing [felt] on my right side. We went through all the physical exams, and when he told me I needed surgery on my right, that was kind of the indicator. And he said my right [side] was almost as bad as my left — the abdominal part, not the groin. That could very well, and most likely, gone back a little bit of ways.
“What we’re thinking is the adjustments I’m making, the way I was throwing last year, might have had something to do with an injury being there, without me knowing. And that might have been why I had to change my mechanics a little bit. And this is coming from Dr. Meyers. Even if I don’t feel it, my brain still knows it’s there. We think it was a very slow kind of injury. That’s why there was never a pop or anything, I never felt anything, because it was really slow over time. He said I was probably losing strength through my core, so that was probably, what I think — and what we think — my body trying to adjust to that and be able to pitch through it.”
Verlander explains the adjustment he’s trying to make as getting his shoulder back to a parallel level.
“Just overall last year, there was a tilt in my shoulders,” he said. “I look back at pitches I made in the past and right when I’m about to fire to throw home, everything’s parallel. My shoulders are almost parallel, my arm’s up behind my head, and everything’s firing on a parallel plane. Last year, if you were to take a snapshot, there’s a lot of pitches where my lead arm’s up here and I’m firing from down here, almost below my neck.”
Asked how he could pitch well in the postseason — remember, he not only had better results, but better velocity — Verlander shrugged.
“I don’t know. Just, will.”