Justin Verlander has won Cy Young Awards and MVP honors. He also know it is time to make some changes.
The 33-year-old right-hander was injured most of the first half of last season and ended up with a 5-8 record in 2 starts. He isn’t used to that, but knows he isn’t the same pitcher he was 10 years ago.
Verlander used to throw heat but things have changed as his arm has gotten older.
“I wouldn’t say I’m not a power pitcher anymore,” he said. “I hit 99 (on the radar gun) last year. But I feel like I am learning to throw differently to adjust. Different grips, different ways of pitching.”
Bud Norris started for the Braves and watched his spring ERA balloon to 7.88 after allowing six earned runs in three innings. Ender Inciarte had two RBIs for Atlanta.
It seems to be working so far this spring. Verlander allowed one hit and struck out five in four innings Tuesday, extending his scoreless string to nine innings as the Detroit Tigers beat the Atlanta Braves 10-6.
Tigers manager Brad Ausmus caught for the Houston Astros and worked with Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens as their careers were heading down the home stretch. He said that, like the those two stars, Verlander will adapt.
“He is adjusting and transitioning,” Ausmus said. “It’s just a natural progression of things. Things just change. Pettitte was a two-pitch pitcher. By the time he was done, he was throwing five different pitches. Clemens was already old when he came (to Houston) and he was making changes. Verlander will be fine.”
As for the actual changes, Verlander wasn’t giving away any secrets.
“New grips on my pitches?” Verlander asked.
“I wouldn’t tell you if there was.”
J.D. Martinez homered for the third straight day to increase his spring total to four, and James McCann also homered for the Tigers. Ian Kinsler doubled to improve his spring average to .385.
The Tigers led 6-0 in the third inning and coasted down the stretch.
New closer Francisco Rodriguez pitched a scoreless inning in his second outing of the spring.