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A sometimes-irreverent look at Detroit's Boys of Summer, the Tigers, as they try to return to the top of the American League Central.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Verlander gives everyone a scare, expects to be fine

Monday night’s obligatory gasp of worry was provided by one of those “did that just happen?” moments that the Tigers have had all too often this season. 

In this case, it was ace Justin Verlander diving on a loose ball like a live grenade, and tweaking his left shoulder in the process. At the time, he said it felt like it had popped out.

"That was how I explained it. ... I don’t think it came out. I don’t know. It felt like it tried to pop out," he said after the game. "I don’t know what the feeling would be like; it just felt like everything was stretched out."

In the fifth inning, with runners on first and third, Alex Avila’s throw back to the mound clipped home plate umpire Bill Welke on the hand, sending the ball weakly out onto the infield grass.

Before he saw the “dead ball” signal, Verlander dove after it, but appeared to slip, hurting his left shoulder in the process. He said it felt like it popped out.

“Obviously, I didn’t see. I guess the ball tipped the bat or the umpire hit Alex’s hand or something. That’s why the ball went in the dirt. I didn’t see that. If I had known that, obviously, I would have known that time’s out. But with a guy on third and the ball coming back on the ground, I’ve got to try to stop it. So I went down to get it and my body wasn’t prepared for that. All my weight landed on my left arm. It just kind of jarred my shoulder a little bit. I felt it for a little bit and then it went away. I got some ice on it after the game. It should be fine,” Verlander said.

“I gave myself a little bit of a scare and everybody else. It’s my left arm. Maybe I can throw with just it dangling. Who knows?”

In essence, the Tigers nearly lost their ace on a routine portion of play that wasn’t even really ever a live play.

“It’s obviously pretty scary. The reason I wasn’t too frightened was I didn’t see a whole lot of pain expression on his face,” Leyland said. “I saw him thinking ‘Ohh, what’s this?’ But I didn’t really see him grimacing in pain or anything.

“A little nervous about it? Sure. But he was fine.”

After a few warm-up tosses, Verlander was fine, good to continue pitching in a one-run game.

Still, it was a sigh of relief.

After the odd moment, Verlander struck out Jarrod Dyson looking and Alcides Escobar swinging to end the inning, stranding both the runners aboard. The two whiffs, Nos. six and seven on the night for Verlander, allowed him to reclaim the MLB strikeout lead from teammate Max Scherzer (230-228). He’d finish with eight on the night.

His manager was more worried about the pitch count, and having to reach back for extra velocity early at that point.

“He was terrific. That one inning was a pretty tough situation to get out of, to get Dyson and Escobar. Pretty tough. Both pretty good contact hitters,” Leyland said.

“He cranked one up to Dyson that was an absolute perfect pitch at 99, then he cranked up a perfect pitch at 100. But that’s a little early for that. I was a little nervous about it, to be honest with you. I don’t like to see him have to do that too early. Particularly after his last start, where he had to throw 122 pitches in six innings. It’s September. Hopefully we’re going to be playing for a while.

“So that was not the most comfortable feeling.”


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