Verlander benefits from pressure situation
Bases-loaded jam allows Tigers' ace to crank it up a bit
LAKELAND, Fla. -- Justin Verlander grew up in Virginia watching Braves games on television, featuring the great Chipper Jones. Getting to face him in a bases-loaded, no-out jam might not have been something he aspired to, but it's something he nonetheless appreciated.
"There's always a little bit of fun in there," Verlander said. "He's going to be a Hall of Famer."
The same might be said of Verlander someday.
If there's one bright side to Verlander's first relatively rough outing of the spring, at least by his standards, it's that he got the feel for pitching in tight situations. That's how he tried to look at that situation.
The jam was a chance for him to tune up his fastball from his usual spot in the mid-90s up to the upper 90s.
"The one time with the bases loaded, I tried to go to another level," Verlander said. "That's the first time I've done that. Obviously, it wasn't quite right, but it was good that I had the opportunity to work on that. The velocity was getting up there. It was a little harder to control for me, but the more I do it, the better I'll get."
Verlander retired Jones on a 2-0 fastball at 95 mph, jamming him into a popup between first and second base. He didn't have the same result on his 1-0 fastball to Eric Hinske, who lined it to left field for a two-run single.
Verlander's final out of the inning might have been the most impressive, and it had nothing to do with velocity. With runners at the corners, Verlander sent down Lakeland native Matt Diaz swinging on three pitches, all of them different.
"Fastball, curveball, changeup," Verlander recited.
Prognosis coming for Turner's shoulder
LAKELAND, Fla. -- Wednesday marks one week since the Tigers shut down Jacob Turner from throwing with shoulder tendinitis. They should have a pretty good idea in the next day or two how close he is to pitching again.
"Turner's still making progress," manager Jim Leyland said. "He played catch with [pitching coach Jeff Jones] today, but he hasn't thrown an all-out bullpen [session] or anything, no."
The next couple days will actually mark the second turn through the rotation that Turner has missed. Andy Oliver will start for the Tigers on Wednesday, pushing Rick Porcello to a Minor League start to get his innings. Drew Smyly will pitch in a Minor League game on Thursday, while the rest of the Tigers enjoy their lone off-day of the spring.
Tigers send four non-roster players to Minors
LAKELAND, Fla. -- The Tigers cleared out more space in camp Tuesday morning by sending out four non-roster players. Outfielder Jerad Head, catcher Bryan Holaday, utility man Eric Patterson and outfielder Matt Young were all assigned to Minor League camp.
Head, Patterson and Young are expected to be the veteran component of the lineup at Triple-A Toledo. None of them were expected to contend for a spot on the Opening Day roster, though Patterson made an early splash with his two-homer game on March 9. His playing time had diminished in the days since. Patterson finished up his big league camp going 6-for-18 with a double, a triple, the two homers and four RBIs.
"Those guys were all guys that we think have a chance to play in the big leagues," Leyland said. "Some of them have had some big league experience, and we tell them the same as we tell everybody: If they're the guys that are doing good, and that's who the Triple-A manager or the organization says to bring up, that's who we bring up.
"I think they all made a good impression. We got a feel for their track record and what they can do. If they're doing good and we have an issue up here, then whichever one of those guys they recommend, that's who we'll take."
Holaday, who spent last season at Double-A Erie, could end up sharing catching duties with the Mud Hens alongside Omir Santos.