TOM WITHERS, AP Sports Writer
CLEVELAND (AP) — Justin Verlander wants to keep his private life just that — private.
The Tigers’ star pitcher commented for the first time Tuesday after nude photos of him and model girlfriend Kate Upton were allegedly hacked from an online account and posted on the Internet.
Verlander, who initially declined comment on the situation, spoke to reporters before Detroit played the Indians.
“I’m not going to comment on my personal life,” the 31-year-old said. “I never have and I never plan on it. I keep my personal life personal. The focus for me is on the Detroit Tigers. I don’t want to take any focus away from this team and what we’re trying to accomplish. We’re in the middle of a pennant race. We’re trying to win a pennant and all of my focus currently is on doing whatever I can to help our team win our division.”
Verlander, Upton and other celebrities, including Academy Award-winning actress Jennifer Lawrence, allegedly had photos stolen and posted online. The FBI has launched an investigation.
Verlander knew there was interest in his side of the story and wanted to address the situation.
“I know a couple of guys wanted to get some questions from me yesterday,” Verlander said. “Instead of everybody kind of sneaking around and getting questions at specific times, it’s just easier to say, ‘I’m not commenting on that. I’m trying to win a pennant.’ I know some guys are probably getting a lot of pressure from other people to get quotes or whatever. I knew I’d be getting a lot of questions. This is it.”
The AL MVP and Cy Young Award winner in 2011, Verlander has always been able to block out distractions. He’s dealt with a shoulder injury this season and takes a 12-11 record into Wednesday’s start against the Indians.
“I’ve always been good at that,” Verlander said of ignoring outside influences. “This is my life. Baseball’s my life. You’re able to focus on that especially when you’re on the mound doing what I’ve done my whole life.”
Verlander did not comment specifically on the photos.
AP freelance writer Steve Herrick contributed to this report.
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