By Ashley Dunkak
COMERICA PARK (CBS DETROIT) – Longtime Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander acknowledged Wednesday that he had been bothered before Monday by the shoulder issues that ended his last outing after just one inning.
Those problems could explain some of the 31-year-old Verlander’s struggles throughout this season, but he showed zero interest in discussing what impact his newly revealed ailments may have had on his performance.
“It’s been bothering me, yeah, but I’ve been pitching through it,” Verlander said. “I don’t really want to talk about that.”
A six-time All-Star, Verlander’s ERA this season is 4.76, the second-worst of his career. The number represents a significant departure even from his performance last season, which was dramatically different from his stellar seasons of 2011 and 2012.
Reporters have asked Verlander all year – especially after his less impressive games – whether he feels well. He has always answered in the affirmative, offering endorsements of his health that in retrospective look to have been misleading.
The pitcher did not entertain questions about that aspect of his situation either.
“I told you I’m not going to answer that,” Verlander said sharply, then cut off a follow-up inquiry. “I told you I’m not going to talk about it. Thank you.”
Tigers manager Brad Ausmus, who pulled Verlander from Monday’s game against the pitcher’s wishes, did not seem surprised to hear Verlander had been dealing for a while with problems in his shoulder. Ausmus would not say how long the issues had been going on or if he was shocked to hear about them, but he said Verlander downplaying any injury would not be an uncharacteristic move.
“It wouldn’t surprise me with Ver because he takes a lot of pride in pitching every five days, and I know for a fact that if it could have been bothering him for an extended period of time, he would keep it to himself so that he could post every fifth day,” Ausmus said. “He’s kind of old-school in that regard.
“You always want to know how a player’s feeling, but as a manager, too, there’s that fine line,” Ausmus added. “You want to know how a player’s feeling, but you also love the players who are willing to play through a little ache and pain. It’s that fine line.”
Most of the time, if players say they feel good, Ausmus will trust their judgment.
“It’s a delicate balance,” Ausmus said. “A lot of times it depends on what they’re telling you and how they’re feeling or what they’re telling the trainers. Generally speaking, majority of the time, if a guy tells me he can play, I’m going to take him at his word.”