Notes: Verlander lacking comfort
Fine physically, young right-hander working to refine delivery
BRADENTON, Fla. -- The Tigers rested Justin Verlander from throwing this offseason so that he could be physically prepared for his follow-up season. He's fine physically, but his spring has been a little grueling mentally.
The 24-year-old right-hander isn't quite happy where he's at with two starts remaining this spring before he opens his season against Toronto in just over two weeks. His velocity seemed fine on Tuesday against the Pirates at McKechnie Field, but with three runs allowed on five hits over four innings, he didn't like the results much at all.
"It's definitely not the outcome I was looking for," he said. "I'm kind of in the middle ground between where I want to be and where I was last time [out] and the time before. So I felt this time I regressed a little bit, and I need to [move] forward next time."
Verlander can be a tough critic on himself at times, especially now with a year of experience. He said that he became too much of a thrower rather than a pitcher at times on Tuesday. After striking out back-to-back hitters to end a scoreless first, he fell behind against Adam LaRoche and had to fire a fastball over the plate, which LaRoche planted into right field for his first home run of the spring.
An ensuing bloop single from Xavier Nady turned into an undoubtedly frustrating RBI for Verlander when Humberto Cota's broken-bat dribbler eluded the pitcher for a two-out infield single. Chris Duffy's triple and Jack Wilson's double in the third completed the damage.
"Not very good today," manager Jim Leyland said of Verlander. "He threw a couple good breaking balls to get out of the first inning, and then he got in one of those ruts where he just started pumping the ball. He didn't have good command, didn't have good control."
Unlike other pitchers, Verlander isn't working on anything in particular. His goal is simply to get back to how he felt at this point last year. He's not trying to find his velocity, because he feels that the arm strength is there, and the arm feels good. Rather, he's trying to find the feel for his delivery.
"It's not to the point where I feel my mechanics are repeating," Verlander said, "and that causes some wildness. Today was some wildness in the zone as opposed to out of the zone. A lot of pitches were up and in the middle."
The Tigers expected Verlander to go through it, and they expect that he'll find some level of comfort zone by the start of the regular season.
"He did a lot of physical work [this winter] to get his body in shape," Leyland said, "but he didn't do much throwing. It's showed a little bit this spring. He'll be fine."
Ideally, as Verlander gains more experience, he'll learn how to deal with days when he doesn't have his best stuff.
"That's part of the mental process," Leyland said. "Everybody has to understand, sometimes it takes guys a number of years to win a game when they don't have their good stuff. Some guys learn how to do it, and other guys don't.
Campusano update: Left-hander Edward Campusano underwent an MRI exam on his throwing elbow late Monday in Lakeland. The film from the exam was shipped out on Tuesday morning to Detroit, where Dr. Stephen Lemos at the Detroit Medical Center will look at it when it arrives on Wednesday. Thus, the Tigers won't have a final diagnosis for at least another day.
It's a bonus: Tuesday's loss marked the first day in a week that the Tigers didn't win. They had won six of seven going into the day, and the only loss was Sunday's split-squad game against the Braves, while the other squad won at home.
It's generally meaningless when it comes to regular-season success. Leyland, for one, doesn't like to keep track of spring records. Still, he'd like them to be good.
"I'd like to be over .500 for the fans' sake," he said.
Off day for some, but not all: While most Tigers plan to spend their off-day relaxing, a few have some work to do. Mike Maroth, for one, will make his scheduled start in a Minor League game on the back fields at Tigertown. Verlander has to head to the ballpark to work out his arm before heading out for a round of golf.
As for the skipper, Leyland has a scheduled engagement that day. He and hitting coach Lloyd McClendon left after Tuesday's game for Fort Lauderdale, where Leyland is the guest speaker as a charity dinner. He plans to get in some golf earlier in the day.
Coming up: The Tigers will have their only scheduled team off-day of the spring on Wednesday. They'll resume play on Thursday with their only home night game of Spring Training, a 6:05 p.m. ET matchup with the Indians at Joker Marchant Stadium. Jeremy Bonderman will make the start opposite Fausto Carmona for Cleveland, which also has an off-day Wednesday.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.