Verlander back to action … now, moving along
Justin Verlander spent the past three months working like crazy to get back to this point, to get back on the mound in a game … and then start looking past it.
On the day Justin Verlander made his spring debut, he pitched and sounded like he hadn’t left. His mindset is already in midseason form.
He had a couple quick answers to questions about how he felt healthwise in his recovery from core muscle surgery. He talked more about his mechanical adjustments and trying to get back to his dominant form, not just his healthy form.
“I could feel a little bit of a difference,” he said of his mechanical tweaks. “It’s not right where I want it, but talking with [pitching coach] Jeff [Jones] after I came out, it’s much improved. Still going to be working on it for the rest of spring.
“It seems like every day I’ve thrown, it’s gotten a little bit better and feeling a little more natural, so it was a real good sign to get out there on the mound and not worry about it and worry about getting batters out and for it still to be pretty good.”
He was asked about the curveball he dropped on Anthony Gose for a called third strike and talked about the adjustments he made near the end of last season to get his better curveball back. As much as was made about his velocity last September and October, the curveball talk seemed new.
“At the very end of last year, going into the last two [start] of the regular season, I changed my grip on my curveball and I think got it back to the grip I’m supposed to have,” he said. “It had a good impact on me last year and I just remembered the way I gripped it. I’ve been working on that this spring, too, and it was really good today.
“I felt good. I’m not throwing sliders yet. I threw three in the bullpen to warm up. The first three I threw in here were pretty good, so that’s good.”
Remember, this is the guy who talked last week about wanting to erase his 2013 form from his muscle memory and go back to 2012. With all the changes he has talked about this spring, it might get hard to keep track by the time camp breaks. The bigger picture, though, is that he’s thinking past the injury and thinking about pitching.
Being healthy is now almost an afterthought. So is his readiness for Opening Day.
“Maybe [I] might get a little bit more mound time,” he said when asked about preparing for his next start. “I might do a couple light bullpens in addition to my regular bullpen to just get muscle memory locked in.”
Yes, this is the same guy who had to wait a while to get on a mound. That was then.