To learn about our efforts to improve the accessibility and usability of our website, please visit our Accessibility Information page. Skip to section navigation or Skip to main content
Below is an advertisement.


Skip to main content
Justin time, Part I
Below is an advertisement.

2004 First-Year Player Draft
05/13/2004  9:00 AM ET
Justin time, Part I
Verlander and Orenduff share name, college experience
tickets for any Major League Baseball game
Justin Verlander (right) and Justin Orenduff are friends, rivals and possible first-round picks. (courtesy Old Dominion)
Old Dominion's Justin Verlander and Virginia Commonwealth's Justin Orenduff have a lot more in common than just their first name. They are conference rivals, Team USA teammates, close friends and possible first-round draft choices in the upcoming First-Year Player Draft.

On April 9, the two college aces faced each other in a highly anticpated matchup of two of the amateur ranks' top right-handed pitchers. Unlike so many of these over-hyped battles, this one lived up to advanced billing. In front of a capacity crowd at ODU and in front of more than 40 scouts, Verlander pitched a complete-game shutout, striking out 16. Orenduff was the tough-luck loser, but he struck out 11 in his eight innings of work.

For the season, Verlander has gone 4-5 with a 3.67 ERA, striking out 108 and walking 36 in 76 innings pitched. Opposing batters are hitting just .225 against him. Orenduff is 3-4 with a 2.71 ERA, striking out 96 and walking 21 over 76.1 IP. He's held hitters to a .230 batting average.

The day after the marquee matchup on April 9, both Justins sat down with MLB .com's Jonathan Mayo in a lengthy conversation that will appear in two parts about their friendship, their rivalry and their future as professionals.

Listen to Justin Orenduff and Justin Verlander on Radio This was the second time you guys pitched against each other. Did you know each other at all when you faced each other last year?

Justin Orenduff: We didn't know each other really.
Justin Verlander: It was more like we knew of each other. Did you guys make any kind of eye contact or anything during the April 9 game?

Orenduff: During the game, no. We had a brief chat before the game, but that was it.
Verlander: Before the game, we said hello. But then it was game time. A lot of people were looking forward to the April 9 game. Do you think it lived up to the hype?

Orenduff: It was everything I expected it to be. I played here in high school. The crowd was good, the atmosphere was electric. I think we gave the crowd everything they wanted.
Verlander: I think we both pitched very well. Duff got a few bloop hits, that's it. We gave the fans what they wanted.
Orenduff: The strikeouts (27 combined) added something to the crowd. Verlander just got in a groove and his stuff was unhittable. It was pretty impressive. Were you able to appreciate the game as it happened?

Verlander: That came more after. During the game, you're focused on what you can do more than what's happening.
Orenduff: On the field, you forget about the friendship. Afterwards, you can appreciate the game. You want your team to come out on top, and in the back of your mind you want your friend to pitch well.

In the seventh inning of the game, Verlander got two outs with two pitches. The next batter, VCU catcher Jeff Parrish, was called out of the batter's box by the third base coach, perhaps to disrupt Verlander's timing. Verlander appeared to glare at the pair and the first pitch to Parrish was clocked at 99 mph and went about 10 feet over his head. Verlander then proceeded to strike out Parrish on three pitches, one of which was also clocked at 99. What did you think of the incident in the seventh inning?

Orenduff: It happens to all of us. Whether it slipped or he just wanted to establish the inside of the plate, that's our domain. It's a part of baseball. I don't take it personally. He gets pumped up. Maybe he was making a statement.
Verlander: (Smiles). There were more than 40 scouts at that game. How do you deal with all of that attention?

Verlander: At this point, especially after playing for Team USA, when there were a lot of scouts around, it gets to the point you don't even notice them out there. With the fans (on April 9), I had to calm myself down a few times, take a few breaths.
Orenduff: I'm the kind of guy who doesn't let much get to me. I don't think I have to be a different pitcher out there (with all the scouts watching ). Did you guys raise your level of performance because you were pitching against each other?

Orenduff: Definitely. April 9 was built up even before the season began. We couldn't wait until the game came around. It was fun, exciting and very competitive. It seemed like every time one of you did something like struck out the side, the other one had to answer back.

Verlander: After a quick inning, you have to get your team back hitting again. There were certain innings which were pivotal to have a quick inning. What's Justin Orenduff like as a person? Anything surprising?

Verlander: He's a really nice guy, one of the nicest I've ever met. He's really down to earth. Our relationship was built over the summer. I remember when we first met, we said the same exact thing. What did you say?

Orenduff: It was something like, 'How's it going? Pretty good.'
Verlander: We said it at the exact same time. It was pretty funny. And what's Verlander like?

Orenduff: Coming into the trials, we were both CAA pitchers, so they paired us together. He's...
Verlander: I'm more of a goofball than you are.
Orenduff: I'd heard that about him. But he's a pretty normal guy. What things did you hear?

Orenduff: Like when he went on road trips, he'd jump up and down on the beds (in hotels).
Verlander: Come on now. And none of that happened with Team USA?

Orenduff: We wrestled a few times. I had to take him down.
Verlander: Tell the truth now. That seems to fit your perceived personalities on the mound. Duff, you're seen as calmer, more composed. Verlander, you're, I don't want to say 'hothead,' but you're a guy who shows his emotions more on the mound.

Verlander: I've had to work on that. I've gotten much better at it, especially this year. After rooming together for Team USA, any deep secrets you can reveal about each other that others don't know about?

Verlander: This kid loves the show "Dawson's Creek." That's all I got .
Orenduff: He does this weird thing with his throat.
Verlander: (Makes the sound). My throat gets scratchy sometimes.
Orenduff: He does it when he's asleep, too. How valuable was the whole Team USA experience?

Orenduff: Pitching for Team USA, with the quality of the players behind you, it made it easy. We had great fielders behind us, so you knew if you made your pitches and the ball was put into play, they would make the plays. That's a great feeling. They weren't just great players, they were great guys. Really down to earth. Having the experience of playing at that high of a level, I felt fortunate to be there.
Verlander: Playing with guys like that, you naturally want to step up your ability. It was a privilege to pitch on that team. There was just an aura of winning the whole summer. I'm hopeful I can bring some of that back here (ODU is struggling). How often do you guys talk or see each other?

Verlander: I'd say every couple of weeks or so. We got together a couple of times, too.
Orenduff: We hung out on New Year's. We threw a little before the season started. What kinds of things do you guys have in common, other than baseball? What do you do when you get together?

Orenduff: We talk about every-day stuff. We both have had girlfriends for a while, so sometimes we talk about our relationships.
Verlander: You're stretching now ... We just like having down time together. Sometimes it's good just to hang out with a friend. You know leisurely, like playing golf. We should play golf.
Orenduff: I'm getting there. I'm getting a set of clubs. Do you guys share pitching tips, or give each other advice on how to deal with the pressure you're under?

Verlander: I do reacall phone calls where we talk about stuff like that. If we have ideas, we help each other out.
Orenduff: It goes back to over the summer. The four starters on Team USA each brought something different to the table. It was like a learning factory, learning about grips, long-toss programs, bullpen sessions, that kind of thing.
Verlander: You're going to teach me to throw a good slider, though.
Orenduff: OK.

COMING IN PART II: Verlander and Orenduff give each other a scouting report and talk about preparing for draft day.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

email this pageemail this page

MLB Headlines