By Ashley Dunkak
DETROIT (CBS DETROIT) – Nothing like an unsubstantiated steroids rumor to distract from a 12-game win streak.
Before Friday night’s game at Yankee Stadium, Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander took questions about what he termed “moronic” allegations made by St. Louis sports talk radio host Jack Clark.
Citing no evidence and no sources, Clark, a former major league baseball player and hitting coach, suggested on air that Verlander used performance-enhancing drugs.
Apparently Clark’s conclusion sprang from the fact Verlander has had a poor season compared to his recent years. He finished in the top three of Cy Young voting three of the last four seasons. He also recorded a league-best 2.40 ERA in 2011 and still-stellar 2.64 ERA in 2012.
Deviating from those impossibly high standards at the age of 30 is quite predictable and normal, and certainly inevitable, but to Clark, it signaled earlier steroid use, and he speculated accordingly.
“Verlander was like Nolan Ryan, he threw 97, 98, 100 miles an hour from the first inning to the ninth inning,” Clark said on the air. “He got that big contract, now he can barely reach 92, 93. What happened to it? He has no arm problems, nothing’s wrong. It’s just the signs are there.
“The greed … they juice up, they grab the money and it’s just a free pass to steal is the way I look at it.”
Needless to say, Verlander did not appreciate the baseless insinuations.
“There is no merit in what he is talking about,” Verlander told reporters Friday. “He’s not watching me pitch. Because if he did he would’ve seen my last start, right? He’s saying I’m struggling to hit 93, 94? I averaged 97 and hit a 100 in my last start. So clearly he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”
“It’s just troublesome that in this day and age, with no merit or anything, somebody can just throw a name (around) just because he feels like, in his opinion, I’m having a down year cause I’ve lost velocity which clearly wasn’t the case,” Verlander added. “Then all of a sudden I’m having to deal with this just because I have a big name.”