Verlander on adjustments, training, Scherzer
Justin Verlander has had the talk with Dave Dombrowski, Brad Ausmus and Jeff Jones about his pitches, and the possible adjustments he’ll have to make over the second half of his career. He has been open to talking with other pitchers about it, including his friend John Smoltz and Roger Clemens. Whether he begins to make adjustments now, however, is going to depend on what he sees this spring.
“I think it’s a little unfair to judge on last season,” Verlander said Tuesday. “I think it’s a different story if I go out there this year and it’s the same thing, then definitely some adjusting. And I think I’ll start to figure that out pretty early on. But I’m not going to judge changing my entire career based on an injury that plagued me last year. I don’t think that’s the right way to approach things. I think it’s [a matter of being able to] adjust on the fly, see where it takes [me]. I’ve been tinkering with some things and I can make adjustments if need be.”
When asked if that might include some new pitches, Verlander said, “Yeah, maybe. That kind of goes in the same, see where we’re at and if I need to make adjustments I will.”
One adjustment he has made, intentionally or not, is his weight, which is up 25 pounds. It wasn’t a dietary change, he said, more of a return to the gym after missing part of last offseason rehabbing from core muscle surgery.
“I just lost a lot of weight last year. I think that was the lightest I had been in years,” he said. “After surgery I got on the scale and I was like 210. I’m 237 right now. I think I got back up to around 220 during the season, but it’s kinda like you’re behind the eight ball. You have surgery and it’s like I have to get out there and pitch, I can’t really worry about hitting the weight room, I have to do everything I can to be on the mound. Obviously, that’s the main focus. This year it’s a bit different. I’m able to focus on other things, get my strength back and then get on the mound.”
He obviously got on the mound earlier than last year. At this point last spring, he still hadn’t thrown off the mound. This year, he has already thrown several times, most recently Tuesday.
“They’ve gone really well,” he said. “Felt good. Arm feels great. Obviously way ahead of the curve, especially as opposed to last year. But everything seems crisper. It just seems like more quality pitches.”
More from Verlander …
- On working out while traveling this offseason: “I was in New York for a couple months. I did travel a bit, but one of the main things I focused on all my travels, I made sure there was a gym that I could get in. I spent a couple weeks in the Bahamas and they had a great workout facility down there, so I was in there like my normal workout routine, had a trainer down there so I didn’t miss any time.”
- On talking with other pitchers about adjustments with age: “I’ve chatted with some guys. Obviously, I’ll always have Kenny Rogers’ ear. He’s a friend of mine. I think the good thing is, this is a very tight fraternity, baseball. I think if I wanted to reach out to pretty much anybody out there, guys who did it, I think they’d be open to just chatting. Me, personally, and I know a lot of guys are this way, we love to talk baseball. It’s not one of those things where, say, somebody that pitched until they were 40-something and they had a Hall of Fame career, I don’t think they’re necessarily going to reach out and say – because they know how it is – they’re not going to reach out and say, ‘Hey, Justin, you need to fix this.’ But if I reached out to them [they’ll be open]. It’s like when people say, ‘Justin, how do you treat the young guys?’ Well, if they have any questions, I’m an open book. If they want to talk to me, that’s fine. But I’m not going to go up to them and say, ‘Hey, you need to change this.’ But if they come to me or if I go to whoever, Smoltz, Clemens, name them, I’m sure that they would be more than willing to sit down and just chat.”
- On struggles against right-handed hitters last year: “I think you look at a couple of my off-speed pitches – my curveball and slider specifically – against righties, neither one of those pitches were good at all last year. They just didn’t have the same bite. I’ve already seen a pretty dramatic difference in my curveball. I haven’t thrown any sliders yet, but the curveball seems to be a lot better already than it was at any point last year.”
- On Tigers getting overlooked: “I talked to Alex [Avila] about this and he said he kind of likes being in a position where everybody’s not picking us to win the division. We didn’t argue about it but we had a conversation. I said, ‘Yeah, you know, I think people just like to talk.’ ESPN and MLB Network, all the moves in the AL Central, it’s something to talk about. It’s cool. Look what the Sox did. The Indians are always good. The Royals were the pennant-winners last year. What did the Tigers do? They are aging. But if you had them put a bunch of money on somebody in the division, who do you think they’re taking? It’s easy to talk about, easy to say, ‘Yeah I will take the White Sox.’ But if you had to put a bunch of money on it, mortgage the future, I think you have to take us.”
- More on division: “I still believe we are the team to beat. You look around this [clubhouse], I would take us. Obviously I am a bit biased. But look around this locker room. There is a wealth of talent. I think we have just as good a chance as we’ve had in the past. Is the division better? Yeah, but I still think we’re the best team.”
- On Shane Greene: “It’s obviously different from watching him [shut us down] last year. But watching him throw his bullpen, that was impressive. He’s very deceptive, especially from behind. You don’t see anything. You don’t see the ball. It just kind of pops out from behind his ear.”
- On Max Scherzer’s departure: “I think everybody saw this coming a year ago. If you didn’t, you’re blind.”
- On Scherzer’s reference that Tigers couldn’t keep everybody: “Well, I feel like they tried pretty damn hard. I feel like that was a pretty doggone hard effort. It worked out well for him and I wish him the best of luck. Do I wish he was here? Yeah, but that was his decision. I don’t think you can be upset at him. We’ve had a lot of players fight and give up their livelihoods to create free agency. Max is someone who pays attention to that stuff. He’s a numbers guy. He knows he wants to test the market and it worked out well for him.”
- On David Price’s golf game: “That’s a loaded question. I would bet on me, again.”