Results tagged ‘ Justin Verlander ’
After all the debate on what’s going on with Justin Verlander on the mound, his work off the field took another step. On Wednesday, the Tigers announced that Verlander has committed $1 million to launch an initiative with the Detroit Tigers Foundation to support mental health efforts of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and their families in the Detroit area as well as his home area of Richmond and Norfolk, Virginia.
The Wins and Warriors initiative will work to sustain two programs that work with veterans and their families: Give An Hour and The Mission Continues. Both are national organizations. The funding will help Give An Hour, which asks mental health professionals to donate an hour a week to free mental health services for veterans and their families, launch new posts in Detroit and the Richmond-Norfolk area in Virginia. The Mission Continues awards community service fellowships to post-9/11 veterans, and will use the Wins for Warriors funding to create three new fellowships — one in Detroit, one in Richmond and one in Norfolk.
Wins for Warriors is also conducting a fundraising campaign through Crowdrise for further support, with Verlander matching each donation through the end of the regular season. He’ll also be offering up incentives to donate, from signed baseballs to on-field pregame events to an offer to watch a 2014 game from his suite at Comerica Park.
A year after Justin Verlander’s infamous All-Star first inning, nobody on the Tigers is trying to hide from it. But it’s also clear that nobody wants a repeat of it. The fact that Max Scherzer has his regular coaching staff around him this time, including highly trusted pitching coach Jeff Jones should help.
Scherzer has joked a few times about not taking the mound with too much energy like Verlander did. But just in case, Jones said earlier Tuesday that he’s going to check on his 13-game winner beforehand.
“We’ll talk about that,” Jones said. “I’m going to tell him I want you to come out and pitch the same way you do in the first inning of any game. Because I don’t think it’s going to be beneficial commandwise at the mound to try to do more. There’s no sense in getting out of whack while you’re here.
”You don’t want to change anything. We’ll talk about it. We’ll keep him calmed down.”
Remember the CBSSports.com piece from a few days ago, quoting Justin Verlander saying he didn’t want any contract negotiations during the season? Well, he doesn’t want any questions regarding contract negotiations starting … right … about … now.
The question on his contract came up as expected after his 5 2/3 innings of work Wednesday against the Phillies.
“I’ve got no comments on contract anything,” Verlander said. “We’re one start away from Opening Day and I’d prefer to talk about that.”
Does that signal anything going on, considering Verlander has taken questions on his contract status all spring? At this point, there are no signs that anything is close. The Tigers haven’t commented on Verlander’s contract status all spring, other than GM Dave Dombrowski saying he’d like to keep Verlander in a Tiger uniform for a long time. Verlander’s agent, Mike Milchin, is known for not saying much of anything to the media on negotiations.
It could also be that Verlander didn’t want to take questions on contract talks on this particular day.
Here’s the thing about Verlander: Though the Tigers don’t close spring training until Saturday, when they wrap up Grapefruit League play against the Rays at Tropicana Field and then fly to Minneapolis, Verlander goes into regular-season mode starting Thursday. His final spring start was moved to Wednesday so that he could start Opening Day on his standard four days of rest. He is a creature of routines, and his regular-season routine starts now.
It’s hard to tell whether there’s any room for Verlander to take on contract talks in the midst of that routine. The fact that Verlander isn’t talking about it could suggest that he is, or it could suggest he’s just shutting everything down now. It’s hard to tell with him.
Long answer short: Not sure, but there are some clues.
Jim Leyland said Tuesday he still wasn’t ready to reveal his rotation order after Justin Verlander’s Opening Day assignment, even after announcing Rick Porcello will complete the rotation. This is now getting into bizarre territory; usually when the Tigers open a season on the road, Leyland announces his starter for the home opener shortly after his Opening Day starter, if not at the same time. At this point, we still don’t know who that might be. Whether it has anything to do with the Twins having not announced their starters yet is anyone’s guess.
What we have right now, though, is a pitching order for the final games of Grapefruit League play. Justin Verlander will get his final spring tuneup on Wednesday, then Anibal Sanchez on Thursday, then Max Scherzer on Friday, then Doug Fister on Saturday. Verlander is starting on an extra day of rest Wednesday so that he can be on turn for Monday on his regular four days’ rest.
It’s possible the Tigers could slot Sanchez, Scherzer and Fister in order from there and have them all pitching on an extra day’s rest. It’s also possible Scherzer and Fister could close out the series in Minnesota on four days’ rest each, though it seems unlikely they’d make Sanchez wait more than a week before his first regular-season start. All we can gather for sure is that there’s no way Fister could go from wrapping up his spring training on Saturday to starting off his regular season on Wednesday, especially the way he has pitched.
The widespread belief in recent weeks has been that Scherzer would start the home opener as a reward for last season. However, he has been very good pitching at Target Field the last couple years (3-0 in 3 starts, 4 runs, 14 hits, 19 1/3 innings, 23 strikeouts). Now, he would be on six days’ rest going into the home opener, two more days than normal. Fister doesn’t have that same history in Minnesota, though he has been good at Comerica Park since becoming a Tiger.
To get back to the original question: You can read quite a bit into this week’s order and come up with a good guess at the rotation. I wouldn’t be ready to swear to that quite yet, though.
The main news out of Tigers camp Monday morning were the starting assignments for the first few games of the Grapefruit League. Remember, the Tigers don’t play their annual exhibition against Florida Southern until the middle of March. Instead, they’ll dive straight into Major League play by facing the Braves at Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex on Friday.
Rick Porcello will start that game. Anibal Sanchez will start Saturday against the Blue Jays at Joker Marchant Stadium. Justin Verlander starts Sunday against the Phillies in Lakeland. All of those games start at 1:05pm ET, and all of them will be on 97.1 FM back in Detroit and online at MLB Gameday Audio.
Still to be slotted are Max Scherzer, Doug Fister and Drew Smyly. The Tigers are trying to juggle six starters for five spots, and they’re trying to stretch out Casey Crosby’s innings as well to get him ready for a likely assignment in the rotation at Triple-A Toledo, so they’ll have some juggling to do. They have only one set of split-squad games, which comes up on March 2.
Justin Verlander will report to Spring Training with pretty good bragging rights about his golf game, having done more than holding his own in the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. He and PGA Tour pro Robert Garrigus teamed up for a 13th-place finish, five strokes off the lead and two strokes out of a top-10 finish.
After making the cut Saturday with a third-round 63, Verlander and Garrigus carried their momentum with a solid final round on the Pebble Beach course for a second straight day, threatening the top 10 before a bogey at the end cost them. They finished in a three-way tie for 13th at 26-under, tied with 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh and businessman David Novak.
Verlander beat out Matt Cain, who didn’t make Saturday’s cut. Whether that gives Verlander top billing for baseballers at Pebble Beach this year depends on how folks consider Astros owner Jim Crane, who finished tied for third.
Verlander, whose competitiveness has been known to carry over to the golf course, seemed to have a good time with it this weekend, if his Twitter feed is any indication. He snapped off several pictures along the way, and talked about playing catch with his caddy on the fairway at hole #1 Saturday. That should be good news for pitching coach Jeff Jones, who had talked with Verlander about maintaining his throwing program while he was away this week.
No word yet on when Verlander joins the team in Lakeland. Though Monday is technically reporting day for Tigers pitchers and catchers, Verlander already reported, having worked out at the ballpark for several days before this past week.
Realistically, there are two things to watch for with Justin Verlander this spring, but with no contract talks going on (at least from what Verlander said last week), the World Baseball Classic is the one generating news. The latest update came Wednesday from CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman, who cites sources saying USA Baseball officials are growing optimistic Verlander will opt to take part.
It’s slightly surprising, given what Verlander was saying last week about waiting to see how he feels in early throwing workouts. But with Kris Medlen and Andy Pettitte both reportedly out, Team USA desperately needs starting pitching, and it isn’t hard to envision pressure being applied to Verlander, who played for Team USA in international play when he was in college and enjoyed the experience.
Final rosters have to be set February 20, so Verlander has just about a week of formal workouts plus early throwing sessions to gauge his arm, which he said last week will be the determining factor for him. It’s not simply about making sure his arm is fine. If he’s going to pitch in the event, he said, he’s going to have to be able to throw without holding anything back or pacing himself. So he’s going to have to be ahead of schedule compared to his normal spring routine.
“In Spring Training games, you can afford to hold a little bit back,” Verlander said last Thursday. “But all of a sudden, you put yourself in a situation like that, and it’s pedal-to-the-metal. There’s no holding anything back. When you’re playing for your country, it means something.”
Add in the fact that Verlander began his throwing program later this offseason to let his arm rest after another long postseason run, and even Verlander admitted last Thursday that it should theoretically make him less likely to take part. But it’s hard to tell Verlander he can’t do something.
The Tigers don’t have a say in this one, and even if they did, they wouldn’t try to tell Verlander what to do. The decision is all his, and I expect he’ll get a slew of questions about it for the first week of camp.
The Tigers began the Detroit portion for their winter caravan Thursday with a media luncheon, and as with last year, Justin Verlander was the center of attention once the interviews began. He talked about his upcoming appearance in the Pebble Beach Pro-Am, his offseason workouts (he put off his throwing program this winter after a long season and didn’t began throwing until earlier this month) and the outlook for the team.
Once the scrum died down, then came the discussion about his contract status. He has two years left on his current deal, usually the time when teams consider extensions for guys they want to keep. The Tigers have said very little about their plans on that. Verlander let his side be known.
“There haven’t been any talks,” Verlander said. “I’ve made no secret that I love Detroit. I grew up in front of these fans. I feel like I’ve been a big part of this city, and this city has become a big part of me. So I, obviously, would love to play my career here.
“I’ve made this point before, that the ultimate goal for me is the Hall of Fame, and I would like nothing better than to go into the Hall of Fame with the Old English D on my chest. That doesn’t happen too often nowadays, for somebody to play with a team through their whole career. You see Chipper Jones, what he did, that’s something special. But, like I said, there’s been no talks yet.”
Asked if he’d prefer having those talks now or whether they might be put off until next offseason, Verlander said, “It doesn’t matter. I mean, that’s not up to me.”
When asked how important it would be to him if he became baseball’s first $200 million pitcher, Verlander let out a laugh.
“Loaded question there,” Verlander smiled as he pondered. “Well, you guys know me and how competitive I am with every aspect of everything. But I’m my own individual. I don’t look at anybody else and say he did this, he did that. It’s what I’m comfortable with when it comes to something like that. There’s been no discussions as of yet. Don’t know if there will be.”
The fact that there’s no public timetable for talks at this point doesn’t mean that it’s not going to happen. If you remember back to this point three years ago, Verlander sounded back then like there was nothing close. Two weeks later, they had a deal.
A new deal now would be more complicated. Instead of a promising young pitcher on the rise, Verlander has arrived, now at the top of his profession. Still, the Tigers have a talent for putting together deals without prolonging talks.
In other news, Verlander said he has not yet decided whether he’ll pitch in the World Baseball Classic, where a potential spot is waiting for him on Team USA. How he feels in his bullpen sessions early in camp will help him decide, he says. If he does take part, he admits it would be hard not to go all-out against hitters, which would be a big change from his usual Spring Training approach of every pitch with a purpose. That might be enough to keep him out.
“In Spring Training games, you can afford to hold a little bit back,” Verlander said. “But all of a sudden, you put yourself in a situation like that, and it’s pedal-to-the-metal. There’s no holding anything back. When you’re playing for your country, it means something.”
Now this offseason market gets real for the Tigers.
I’m off for vacation heading into the holidays, so I won’t be writing about it much the next couple weeks, but I thought it was worth a blog post to set the scene. Because now that Zack Greinke has his deal — reportedly six years and $147 million from the Dodgers — the pitching market is set for others to follow. That includes Anibal Sanchez, regarded by many as the next-best free-agent starter on the market.
For the Tigers’ purposes, that also means Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer, both two years away from free agency (when most teams try to lock up the starting pitchers they covet while security is still a big deal for them).
The belief going into the Winter Meetings was that a Greinke deal with the Dodgers would be good for the Tigers, because it would take this offseason’s biggest spenders out of the market for Sanchez. None of the other potential suitors have the financial might that the Dodgers do with new local television money coming.
Well, Greinke is a Dodger, but it’s no longer a certainty that Los Angeles will stop there. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports that the Dodgers have interest in both Sanchez and fellow free agent Kyle Lohse. Whether that interest has a financial limit remains to be seen; the Dodgers payroll is picking up speed towards $200 million. But if they’re interested, they’re going to be a major factor that might force the Tigers to make a very difficult decision.
So, too, could the Rangers, if they want to make a pitch for Sanchez after losing out on Greinke. So, too, could a couple other teams. Maybe the Angels, still with room for a starter, try to answer their neighbors’ news. Maybe the Royals, who have made pitching their top priority this winter, could make a run after all. Maybe the Red Sox try to bring back their former prospect. Maybe a contending team in need of a starter has been quietly waiting for the Sanchez bidding to pick up so it can make a move.
Greinke’s contract didn’t get into the $160+ million territory that had been rumored, but it’ll still rank as the highest average annual salary for a right-handed pitcher (CC Sabathia still holds the overall pitching mark at just under $25 million). Sanchez isn’t in that class, but Greinke’s contract will still have a major impact. Sanchez is just four months younger than Greinke, but he has more than 600 fewer Major League innings of wear and tear. He isn’t nearly as proven, but he also isn’t as taxed.
One talent evaluator observing the Sanchez situation at the Winter Meetings said he doesn’t believe Sanchez will get as much money as many might expects. He might get the years, but not the money. That’s all relative, of course, but it’ll be interesting to watch.
But you know who is easily in Greinke’s class, even above it? Justin Verlander. He’s eight months older, and he has more innings, but he has a lot more accomplished on his resume as well. If Greinke is worth just under $25 million, what could Verlander get on the market in two years, still in his early 30s?
It’s the Tigers’ goal to make sure it never gets to that point. It won’t be cheap, but Verlander’s a superstar, and Tigers owner Mike Ilitch loves having superstar players. If it’s going to happen, this is the offseason to do it. But Greinke’s contract shifts the market a little bit, both in money and in years.
Scherzer, too, is two years out from the open market. He doesn’t have nearly the resume, but he’s coming off the best season of his career (though 2010 is close on the secondary numbers). He also has Scott Boras, an agent who eschews long-term contracts before a pitcher hits the open market. If the Tigers are going to make Scherzer a Tiger for years to come, it is not going to be easy. What Greinke’s deal does for Scherzer is show that you don’t have to be a true ace to get a big-time contract. That, too, is dangerous for the Tigers.
Justin Verlander won’t get a chance to repeat for American League MVP, but Miguel Cabrera will get his chance to keep the award in Detroit. Verlander will settle for a shot at another AL Cy Young award.
MLB Network announced the finalists for baseball’s major end-of-season awards Wednesday night, and to no surprise, Cabrera and Verlander were in the middle of them. Cabrera was announced as one of five finalists for AL MVP, while Verlander was named among the three finalists for Cy Young.
Neither was a surprise, though Verlander actually wasn’t among the three finalists for AL Outstanding Pitcher honor at last week’s Players Choice awards. Unless you spent the last three months outside the country, you know that the AL MVP debate basically an argument over Cabrera’s Triple Crown and Mike Trout’s strength in metrics. The other three MVP finalists announced were Texas’ Adrian Beltre and Josh Hamilton, and Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano.
The Cy Young field is more open. Verlander’s 17 wins marked his lowest total since 2008, but he again led the league in innings and strikeouts while ranking second in ERA. He again led all AL pitchers in Wins Above Replacement. Whether that’s enough to put him on top 0f a field that includes 20-game winners David Price (also the ERA champ) and Jered Weaver is difficult to answer.
The Cy Young award winner will be announced next Wednesday at 6 p.m., also on MLB Network. The league MVP honors will be announced the next night.