Verlander: “We’re not going to lower our heads and be, ‘Woe is me.'”
Brad Ausmus said Sunday morning that there’s still leadership in the Tigers clubhouse amidst a late-season fall to the AL Central cellar. After Sunday’s loss, Justin Verlander said it’s up to the veterans to lead in the way they carry themselves.
As the longest-tenured Tiger, now in his 11th season on the team, Verlander is up near the top of the list. He isn’t necessarily a vocal leader, but when asked how much responsibility falls on the veterans to keep younger players pushing, Verlander cited leadership by example — not just in the way they perform, but how they act.
“I think more than anything that the younger guys would feed off of our energy,” said Verlander. “If we’re moaning and bitching and complaining and [saying], ‘Woe is me,’ then they would pick up on that. But these guys, it’s not going to happen that way. We don’t act that way in this clubhouse, even though things aren’t going our way. We’re not going to lower our heads and be, ‘Woe is me.’”
If he saw something like that, he said, it would be addressed by somebody.
“Anybody,” he said. “That’s the beauty of this clubhouse. Young guys, old guys, doesn’t matter. We pick each other up.”
If anyone has a right to be frustrated, it’s Verlander. Sunday’s loss was his fourth in his last seven starts, despite his sixth consecutive quality start. He took bids for a no-hitter into the fifth inning and a shutout into the sixth, but fell to a three-run sixth in a 4-0 shutout.
The Tigers have scored two runs or less in seven of Verlander’s 15 outings this season.
“I’ve said it time and time again: You can’t focus on run support,” Verlander said. “You just have to do your job, keep the team in the game, and hopefully we can scratch across a few runs. We weren’t able to do it today, but my last start, they scored a few runs for me. Everything usually evens out. Like you said, I’ve been kind of unlucky, but luck turns.”
It could yet turn for him — he did win his previous two starts with run support, after all. It appears increasingly difficult for luck for turn for the Tigers, who lost for the 13th time in their last 16 games. Despite that, Verlander said, the team can’t give in to a sense of frustration.
“I think we’re trying to avoid frustration,” he said. “I think with the veterans we have in here, I don’t think that we’re going to be frustrated. I think we come in each and every day with the aspect that it’s a new day, and we try to win today, no matter what’s happened previously. I know we haven’t been playing well the second half as a whole, but we had a lot of our key pieces that were missing. Honestly, we’ve missed them all year, whether it’s been injuries early on or trades after the second half. It’s kind of disappointing that we never had a chance to play as the team that was constructed, but that’s the game of baseball. It happens sometimes.”
He expects that to change with an offseason to make moves, noting owner Mike Ilitch’s track record. For now, however, it’s up to them to finish out the season.
Asked if speculation about Ausmus’ situation going into the offseason upsets them, Verlander said, “That’s not in our realm of control. No offense to you guys, but whatever you write and say is kind of outside noise. In this clubhouse, we focus on ourselves and what’s going on. You can’t let that stuff get to you.”