Justin Verlander continued to be a fountain of quotables on the first official day of Spring Training Thursday.
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Looking to reclaim the throne of Detroit Tigers ace, he talked about relying more on his curveball and changing his game if needed. He looks and appears to be rejuvenated and ready to go. His status is going to be extremely important for the Tigers this season, as is touched on in the first Morning Link.
Verlander had an interesting take on Max Scherzer‘s departure. He knew that Max (like himself) was a competitive guy and knew he could make a boatload more money by shunning the Tigers’ offer in 2014. Verlander also took minor exception to Max’s assertion that the Tigers’ probably weren’t going to keep the rotation together forever, but that the Tigers tried hard anyway.
Lastly we look at how injuries are playing into pretty much every story line in the early days of Lakeland. From Verlander talking about a year away from his surgery to Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez, Bruce Rondon, Jose Iglesias, Joel Hanrahan, injuries are never far from anyone’s mind.
"In many ways, Verlander is likely the key to Detroit’s entire season. Last year, despite obvious discomfort, the pitcher still managed to win 15 games for the Tigers. In total, he’s won 28 games the last two seasons despite all the problems which included elevated ERA’s, lowered strikeout totals and the most earned runs of his career (104) since 2008.So, if Verlander is equal parts motivated and in the best shape of his career, it could play a significant role in helping Detroit quell some of their most prevalent pitching worries and help Verlander cut some of his worst numbers in half. Ever since Max Scherzer left, the question swirling has been how the Tigers could possibly compensate for his removal from the staff.A strong Verlander would go a long way in helping that. At his peak, the pitcher was a 24 game winner and MVP. Considering the passage of time, nobody should expect numbers quite like that, but if Verlander could return to elite form and win 18 or 19 games, it would provide Detroit’s staff with some additional teeth."
Tigers’ Verlander not upset with Scherzer for leaving – Anthony Fenech, Detroit Free Press
"“I think everybody saw this coming a year ago,” Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander said Wednesday. “If you didn’t, you’re blind.”The Tigers did, and bowed out of the running for Scherzer’s services before his decision, general manager Dave Dombrowski said after the pitchers’ departure.The team said all along that it gave a good effort — including offering him a six-year, $144-million contract extension last spring and surpassing it this winter.“I feel like they tried pretty damn hard,” Verlander said. “I thought that was a pretty doggone hard effort.”"
Detroit Tigers: Injuries the Biggest Story in Lakeland – Jeff Flannigan
"What is most important for all parties involved, including the fans is that nobody rushes or panics. The last thing the Tigers need is for Cabrera or Martinez to come back too soon and then be injured for a large portion of the season. While injuries are never a good thing, it is better that these came at the beginning of the season rather than during the race to the playoffs in August and September. Both Cabrera and Martinez are established superstars in the game and have dealt with injuries before. Both men will be ready to compete once they are back on the field, regardless of whether that is before or after April 6th."