Tigers 2, Braves 1(7)

Justin Verlander is ready to do it all over again – with one big

difference. He wants that elusive World Series title.

The ace right-hander tuned up for opening day with a crisp

outing in his final spring start and the Detroit Tigers beat the

Atlanta Braves 2-1 on Saturday in a game called after six innings

due to rain.

Verlander went 24-5 with a 2.40 ERA last season. He won the AL

Cy Young Award and was voted MVP, making for a whirlwind winter.

But he’s ready to move on.

”I appreciated it a lot,” he said. ”It is something I can

look back on, but I won’t change my work ethic or anything because

of it. It doesn’t change my desire to be the best.”

Verlander allowed four hits in six innings against Atlanta,

finishing the spring with a 2.02 ERA. He struck out five and walked

none.

”I didn’t have anything to work on today,” said Verlander, who

will face the Boston Red Sox on Thursday. ”There’s nothing more I

can do. I’m just trying to pitch and treat it like it’s the regular

season.”

Verlander’s first pitch against the Braves registered 96 mph on

the radar gun. That might be nice in July, but it showed he was a

little amped up for a meaningless exhibition game.

”That was an accident,” he laughed. ”It came out a little

hot.”

Still, Verlander said he isn’t satisfied. He said his curveball

has been good but not great, and he did some more throwing in the

bullpen after the game was called following a seven-minute rain

delay.

”Curveball wasn’t great,” he said. ”Everything else was all

right. Fastball control got a little bit better. Changeup was

pretty good. Slider got a little better.”

Tommy Hanson also pitched six innings for the Braves, yielding

five hits. He’s also slated to start on opening day on Thursday

against the New York Mets.

Atlanta closer Craig Kimbrel came in for the seventh but that’s

when the game was called after a seven-minute delay.

Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez had already seen enough by the

time the game was called.

”Tommy Hanson was great,” Gonzalez said. ”He got his work in

and he threw strikes. He’s lined up to start the opener and he’s

looking great.”

Miguel Cabrera went 1 for 3 with an RBI and moved his spring

average to .444, and Clete Thomas homered for the Tigers. Dan Uggla

went 1 for 2 with an RBI for the Braves.

NOTES: Tigers manager Jim Leyland said he might not bring five

starters north for opening day. Detroit doesn’t a fifth starter for

the first homestand and that would allow the potential fifth

starter to open at Triple-A Toledo. It also might need an extra

position player early on because C Gerald Laird (knee) and 2B

Brandon Inge (groin) are day to day. … Tigers RHP Doug Fister is

scheduled to make his final spring start on Sunday against Houston

in Lakeland. Leyland said he might have to mix up the other

pitchers who were scheduled due to Saturday’s rain-shortened game.

… Gonzalez said he saw some positive swings from 2B Josh Wilson

and OF Eric Hinske off Verlander. … Gonzalez already announced

that Hanson will start the season opener, but added that RHP Jair

Jurrjens will start the home opener on April 13 against the

Milwaukee Brewers.