Tigers’ Verlander solid in spring debut
LAKELAND, Fla. (AP) Justin Verlander pitched one-hit ball into the fourth inning of his spring debut for the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday, a 3-2, 10-inning loss to the Toronto Blue Jays.
Verlander’s spring routine has been postponed by his recovery from core-muscle repair surgery on Jan. 9, and his first scheduled start was rained out last Thursday.
”It was a really good sign to get out there on the mound and not worry about it, and worry about getting batters out and (the results) still be pretty good,” he said. ”I put in a lot of work after surgery to get to this point and be ready for the start of the season.
The 2011 MVP and Cy Young Award winner threw 52 pitches, giving up a first-inning single to Melky Cabrera and walking two in 3 2-3 innings. He had two strikeouts, using only his fastball and curveball.
”I’m not throwing sliders yet. I threw three in the bullpen, the first three I threw all year and they were good,” he said. ”I just want to get down to my three main pitches first, and the slider has always been pretty easy for me to throw for strikes. It’s pretty similar to throwing my fastball so it doesn’t take a big adjustment for me to get that going.”
Don Kelly’s two-run home run off Toronto starter Todd Redmond put the Tigers up 2-0 in the second inning.
Dan Johnson tied it for the Blue Jays with a two-run shot off Joba Chamberlain in the seventh, Johnson’s third home run in 14 at-bats.
Redmond gave up five hits and two runs in four innings while striking out three.
Bradley Glenn’s led off the 10th inning with a home run off Melvin Mercedes to win it for the Blue Jays.
Blue Jays: Redmond, a late replacement for Marcus Stroman, has given up four home runs in nine innings. Stroman stayed in Dunedin to pitch against the Canada National Junior Team.
Tigers: Verlander went four innings in his first start because of his efficiency. He threw only 52 pitches.
”Just because the way he was pitching, we thought it could go to an extra inning,” said manager Brad Ausmus. ”We consulted him just to make sure he felt OK. He said he did, so we kind of rolled with it.”
Verlander expects to be ready for opening day, and Ausmus said he is only a few pitches behind the other starters at this point.
Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias took batting practice, fielded groundballs and jogged and reported to Ausmus that it was his best day since being sidelined by shin splints on Feb. 27.
The 34-year-old Johnson, competing for a roster spot, has three home runs in 15 spring at-bats. ”I don’t know how it’s going to break, but that’s what you want out of a bench guy,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. ”You want a guy you can throw up there to strike some fear into you.”
Cabrera played most of the game in center field, a position he has not played since 2011. ”Say one day you want to give Colby (Rasmus) a day off against a tough lefty or something, you could put Melky out there. We wanted to see that today.” Gibbons said.