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October 4, 2017

Justin Verlander

Houston, Texas - Workout Day

THE MODERATOR: Take questions for Justin Verlander.

Q. When you approved the trade you obviously knew the Astros were in the playoffs, but just to be here again at age 34, have another chance to get that World Series ring that's alluded you, what does it mean to you to have this shot right now?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: It means a lot. This is what we play the game for. This is bringing back some fond memories just being here and doing the interview room. There's a buzz, there's an excitement, even in the locker room you just sense it and feel it. So October baseball is what we play the grind for and what we play six months for and not even that, we started working out in November of last year. So that's all to be prepared for this. So to have the opportunity to once again be in the playoffs I could say I don't take it for granted any more. It seemed easy for awhile with the Tigers organization, especially going my first year to the World Series, so I appreciate every step of the way now even more, I think.

Q. As someone with a lot of playoff experience, how valuable do you think that experience in the postseason is going into this series?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I definitely think there is some value in it. I think just more along the lines of knowing what to expect. I don't think it's going to help calming my nerves or give me an edge in that way, but knowing what I'm going to deal with, going into the start, how I'm going to feel during the start, how much more emphasis and stress is put on every single pitch, knowing those things I think helps prepare me better.

Q. When you look back at all the postseason runs with Detroit, obviously there's so many factors, some of it is luck, some of it is great talent, on and on. Were there any defining things though that certain teams were able to advance the farthest had outside of just pure talent, whether it was chemistry, whether any of those things that can separate teams in the postseason?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: Yeah, I think that chemistry is one of the things. But chemistry comes with winning. It always helps. I think the ability to do little things that I saw almost from day one when I got here the ability to score runs in non-conventional fashion, take the extra base when need be, be aggressive, play great defense, be able to shut down the late innings, all those things I think are extremely important. I think throughout my postseason career I've been on multiple teams that has different weaknesses and they get exposed more in the playoffs. That's just kind of the nature of it. So this is one of the most fundamentally sound, top to bottom, ball clubs I've been a part of and I think that gives you a great chance to win. I've always said it, pitching and defense is of the utmost importance in the playoffs. I think the addition of being able to score the runs that you're not necessarily supposed to score, if you can steal a base or steal a run, that plays huge.

Q. Can you talk about the honor of being Game 1 starter being the new guy on the team but that they have so much faith in you?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: Yeah, it's a great honor. I didn't really know what to expect, I had no assumptions whatsoever coming over here. I know Dallas has been great. I know a lot of their starters have been great. And you just don't know how the season's going to shake out either, falling down the last few days, you don't take anything for granted. But once we saw how things were going to shake out and A.J. gave me the information that I was going to be going No. 1. It's always an honor. I think I've been lucky to be part of some pretty great pitching staffs where anybody can go No. 1 the first game and you don't feel like your team's any different than if the other guy goes No. 1. So and I think that's a situation that we have here and it's a great situation to be in because even though you're going Game 1 the weight of the world doesn't fall on your shoulders to have to win that game you know the guy behind you is just as good and the guy behind him. So it's a good situation to be a part of.

Q. How do you view the Red Sox, what will be some of the keys in pitching to them?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I think they have a very talented lineup from top to bottom. You're going to have to be -- I'm going to have to be on my toes the whole game, however long I'm out there. You just kind of, I don't know, just go out there and pick your pitches, that's what it comes down to as a starting pitcher. You got to make your pitches and in the playoffs it's a little bit different I think than in certain regular season games where you really kind of focus on getting as deep as possible into the game. In these games it's stay out there as long as you can without letting up runs. Whether it's five, six, or nine, I think the runs are of utmost importance. But this lineup presents a lot of difficulties. They don't strike out a lot, they put the bat on the ball, any of them can do damage at any time, they can all run well, most of them can run well, they're here for a reason. And good pitching beats good hitting though and I just need to focus on making my pitches and hopefully come out successful.

Q. You're ready to make an impact on Houston outside of baseball, can you talk about that with your Wins For Warriors program.
JUSTIN VERLANDER: Yeah, thank you. I'm really excited to announce the start of the Houston the Harvey Patriot Grant Foundation through Wins For Warriors, which I launched a few years ago. When I got here to Houston, I immediately saw the resiliency of this city and wanted to help. Obviously I came in right after the hurricane and wanted to find the best way that I could give back. So I am donating personally a hundred thousand dollars to start this grant. The Astros Foundation is very generously matching that donation. I'm also, at the end of the playoffs, going to give my playoff share and donate that as well. But the point of this is to help -- my foundation initially was to help veterans and their families -- and there's a huge presence of that here in Houston. So that's what we're going to be focusing on is giving back to those families in need. Like I said, it's a grant that can be a played for. And I think the way that this country has rallied around Houston, I think it's going to be something special if we can win a World Series and to have the country rally around Houston and go hand in hand and give back and help the families that need it is of the utmost importance. You can donate in multiple ways, you can do a one-time donation, or you can donate per win, which is what I think is important, we're trying to win a World Series here, that's 11 wins. So anybody can go to Winsforwarriors.org. Again it's Winsforwarriors.org and pledge a donation. There's a lot of families that need a lot of help and I have been doing a lot of research since I got here and making sure that the way I want to give back is executed properly and helping the people that really need it and I think we have really nailed this. And to have the Astros, again, match my donation, means the world to me. I haven't been here that long, and for them to show that type of support it really means a lot. This is all about helping, so I really urge people to go to the web site, Winsforwarriors.org, again, learn more, donate if you can, donate per win, it's going to go to the right families and it's going to go to people that really need it.

Q. You've been in the same division with Chris Sale most of your career, can you just reflect on some of the battles that you've had with him over the years and if that kind of helps you prepare for what you're going to see tomorrow?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: Yeah, it's been a lot. We faced off a lot of times. You know what type of matchup it's going to be. It's going to be a grind. It's kind of like the first person to blink, you know. As a starting pitcher, you love those battles, but in the regular season kind of see who you're going up against, it's kind of like, all right, let's strap it on and go, because you know it's going to be that type of battle. He's a fierce competitor I always enjoyed watching him pitch. But hopefully this time I'm not rooting for him so much. But it should be a fun game, this is what you dream of as a kid coming up, you want to face the best and he's one of the best in the game right now. So it will be a lot of fun.

Q. It seems like your transition to Houston and into the clubhouse has been pretty seamless. What do you think was the biggest key to allowing you to fit in so well so quickly?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I don't know. I guess the guys, this organization, everybody made the transition as seamless as possible. From making myself comfortable, finding a place to live in the short-term. The ownership helped in so many different ways. The clubhouse, the guys made it seem easy, made me feel like I fit in right away. Other than that, it's just -- I think it helped that we started on the road when I first got here we had like two games at home and then we were on the road. I'm used to those same hotels, I'm used to those same clubhouses, that didn't feel so different, just the guys. And I think that gave me an opportunity to kind of get to know the guys in the clubhouse a little bit more and not -- if we were here at home, I would have had to worry about finding a place to live and moving in and doing all that. But on the road it was just kind of a road trip as usual and get a chance to go out to some dinners and hang out with some guys and get to the ballpark early and talk to everybody and just feel included.

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