10/10/06 6:57 PM ET
Justin Verlander pregame interview
Right-hander says three-digit velocity allows him room for error
By / MLB.com
JUSTIN VERLANDER: The atmosphere was definitely different. It was totally unlike anything I had ever experienced before. As far as the way I felt, though, I actually felt pretty calm and collected going out there. I thought I'd be a little too pumped up, a little too excited and kind of have to idle myself down, but I felt all right. I was way more nervous after I was out of the game than when I was in the game.
Excuse the local question, but before the draft, the Padres were very focused on Drew and Weaver and Niemann and your name didn't come up very much. Did they follow you at all?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I don't know. It's so hard to tell what's going on behind the scenes. I was just focused on pitching. I know at some point throughout the year my agent said they could be interested with the No. 1 slot. But it didn't work out that way, and I'm pleased with where I'm at now.
Can you think back to what you were doing on October 10th last year?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: Sitting at home getting -- I had just bought my place down in Florida, so getting that situated, not playing baseball.
Do you remember the first time you were aware that you had thrown a pitch 100 miles an hour, and did you ever go through a period in your career where you were overly in love with the gun and that was probably more important to you than pitching? Did that ever happen to you?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: No, only because this is really the only level where you have a radar gun that you can see every pitch, so that's kind of enticing. I want to turn around and look at it. I try not to get involved with that too much. The first time I was ever aware was in college, my junior year, the year I got drafted. We always had pitchers the night before charting pitches for the last season. After the game he came up and told me he hit 99 on their gun, which was the highest it would go. I looked at every one of the scouts, and they had 100, so that was pretty exciting.
Do you remember when that was?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I have no idea. It was midway through the college season.
Q. Growing up was there any power pitcher or fastball pitcher that sort of caught your fancy that you followed?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I've always idolized Nolan Ryan. I watched Roger Clemens a lot. There's a handful of guys out there that I enjoyed watching. I really didn't have the opportunity to watch too much baseball when I was younger just because I was playing a whole lot. But whenever I had the opportunity to see those guys, even now, ESPN Classic games come on, Nolan Ryan comes on and I'm glued.
How many teams in Goochland do you think are going to be glued to this came tomorrow night?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I don't know. I've got a great following in Goochland. My dad called me today. There's this barbecue stand in Goochland that says "Good luck, Justin" on the marquee outside. It's good to see the old faithful showing their faces out there.
Your manager talked about Kenny Rogers getting an extra day of rest. You're getting an extra day of rest, too. Is that a good thing for you or a bad thing for you?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I definitely think it's a good thing. I had ten days before my last start and felt really good. So one extra day I think will benefit me. Obviously this is late in the season into October, which is something I've never done before, never even pitched into September. I think every little extra day I can get is a positive.
I wonder if you could just speak to the idea of how three digit velocity allows you to pitch up into the zone and how many mistakes it allows you to get away with?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: It definitely allows me to make some more mistakes in a ballgame. It just gives me more room for error. Obviously I don't want to make errors because it makes it all the tougher. But I can get away with some now and again. Pitching up in the zone, that's something I'm still kind of learning about. I'm still learning how to pitch, and I will be for the rest of my career. Pitching up in the zone is something that I think I could use effectively, but I don't think I've come nearly as close as I can to pitching effectively up in the zone for now. So that's something I've been working on.
Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.