The Detroit Tigers are playing us for fools.
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It’s not a popular thing to say about a team that is 9-2, but would the Justin Verlander situation be receiving more attention and scorn if the team was 2-9?
Early Sunday, a day in which the team proclaimed Justin Verlander would not pick up a baseball “until Sunday,” it was announced that Verlander would not be picking up that pesky ball following some “discomfort” after a simulated game, after two missed starts, after an alleged cramp two weeks before the end of Spring Training. That is one helluva cramp.
I am no doctor, nor do I claim to play one in the blogosphere, but I have to wonder what would be the harm in having Verlander undergo an MRI? Are they afraid of the results?
Let’s take a rough look at the J.V. Timetable:
- March 27: Leaves his scheduled second from last start of Spring Training with what was described as a “cramp” in right triceps muscle. Tigers staff/Verlander confident he won’t miss last start.
- March 30: Team announced Verlander will not make final scheduled spring start on April 1 but probably will be ready to go in first turn through rotation of regular season, Game 6 at Cleveland.
- April 8: Verlander is placed on disabled list for first time in his career, will miss his first start with Kyle Lobstein starting in his place.
- April 10 and 12: Verlander throws encouraging bullpen sessions with a simulated game scheduled on April 15.
- April 15: Though he was scheduled for four innings and 65 pitches, Justin cut short his outing after three innings and 40 pitches, saying he was feeling “fatigue” but was not worried and actually happy with his performance.
- April 17: Tigers report they are “slowing” Verlander down and will not pick up a baseball until at least Sunday.
- April 19: Verlander will not be throwing on Sunday.
Despite all of this, everyone seems to be unconcerned. Perhaps they believe that one morning he will magically wake up and there will be no cramping, no fatigue, no lingering pain. We are now at three weeks since Verlander last appeared in a game and the fairy tale everyone is waiting for has yet to materialize.
It is unclear who is stubborn in this. Is it the Tigers not willing to send their 200 million arm for testing afraid of what it might show? Or is it Verlander, whose pride has been both a positive and a negative for him throughout his career.
It could be a combination of both.
Even if the Tigers drop today’s rubber match with the Chicago White Sox, their 9-3 record would be much better than most of us had thought through 12 games. The fact they are off to a tremendous start without Verlander is even better.
Lobstein got a win last Sunday in Cleveland, but a lot of that was due to the powerful bats that have cooled off. I am not sure Lobstein is a guy fans would be comfortable going with for the long-run. The Tigers are not really exploring their long-term options right now, however, figuring Verlander will be back in a couple of weeks.
It is time to see if there is more damage. If there is, they can make the recovery plans for Justin Verlander and also find the stop-gap measure whether it is Lobstein, another young arm, or someone from outside the organization.
If there is not then everyone’s minds can be put at ease.
One thing is sure, someone who has never had arm problems having a lingering arm problem is not something that should be casually cast aside hopeful of a better day tomorrow.