Tigers ace Verlander has no worries
Justin Verlander says Tigers manager Jim Leyland can relax if he is worried about his ace trying to do too much to justify his big contract.
``I can't give any more than I've been giving,'' Verlander said Sunday.
He has a point.
The 27-year-old right-hander led the major leagues in games started (35), innings pitched (240), strikeouts (269) and total pitches (3,937). He tied for the lead in wins (19) last season before signing a five-year, $80 million contract.
The heavy workload comes with the kind of pitcher he is, Verlander explained.
``Being a power pitcher, you get more foul balls, more swings and misses. I have no problem with that and I feel like I've conditioned myself for that,'' he said. ``I've worked hard since I got here to be a workhorse, to go out there and throw 130 (pitches) and still be able to come back and feel fresh.
``I don't make a big deal over pitch counts; that didn't start coming around until recently, the last 10 years,'' Verlander said. ``Before that, you'd pitch until you weren't getting guys out anymore.''
Leyland said he would have a chat with Verlander about avoiding the mentality that may have affected him in 2008, when he had an off-year.
``He made a long commitment to us, we made a long commitment to him,'' Leyland said. ``The expectations are no different from if he had a one-year contract. I don't want him to put an extra burden on himself now that he's made the commitment.
Verlander blamed his problems in 2008 on bad habits that he has since corrected.
``It's a game of adjustments and I've talked about it before - in '08 I was still trying to adjust to different things,'' he said. ``It didn't work and it led to some bad habits so I nixed that, and I felt like last year was a program that worked good for me, so I'll stick with that.''
The contract, signed on Feb. 4, locks up Verlander through 2014. The long-term security won't change anything on the field, Verlander insists.
``Every fifth day I'm on the mound, and it doesn't matter whether I'm making one cent or a billion dollars,'' he said. ``It's not going to change the way I am.''
Entering his fifth major league season, Verlander says the thought of pitching his entire career with the Tigers appeals to him.
``I figure that's something that doesn't happen very often in this day and age in baseball,'' he said. ``The likelihood of me sticking around Detroit for the rest of my career is slim, but you never know, and the first step is staying there for a little while longer than (the first years of eligibility for) free agency. So we've got that under the belt, and we'll see what happens.''
NOTES: Phil Coke will start for the Tigers in Tuesday's exhibition opener against Florida Southern College at Marchant Stadium. Eddie Bonine, Enrique Gonlaez, Cody Satterwhite, Fu-Te Ni and Joel Zumaya will also face the Mocs. ... Jeremy Bonderman will pitch against the Toronto Blue Jays in Dunedin on Wednesday, followed by Nate Robertson, Armando Galarraga, Ryan Perry, Brad Thomas and Daniel Schlereth. ... Rick Porcello is scheduled to pitch against the Blue Jays in Lakeland, followed by Max Scherzer, Dontrelle Willis, Alfedo Figaro, Phil Dumatrait and Jose Valverde.