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October 17, 2018

Justin Verlander

Houston, Texas - pregame 4

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Justin Verlander.

Q. This is not something you're unfamiliar with, but what is the difficulty of facing a lineup the second time in such a quick turnaround?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: Especially these guys, a team that's really good at making adjustments, making adjustments quickly. There are definitely unique challenges. They know my strengths. They know my weaknesses. I know theirs.

And the second time going against a lineup, you need to adjust. Or you don't. I don't know. That's kind of one of those times when I like to rely on my instincts when I'm out there and just feel my way through a game.

Q. Is there much difference in any way at all if you're pitching you're down 3-1 or it's 2-2?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I don't know. I mean, these are all must-win games at this point. Every time you take the mound I don't think there's any difference whether it's 2-2 or 3-1.

Q. How much is sign stealing -- there's a lot of talk about sign stealing in the last 24 hours -- how much has that changed since you've been in the game? And if you're on the mound, how much is it a lingering concern over 162-game season to you?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: It's changed a lot. The advancement of technology has changed the game of baseball a lot. And I was just talking about it in the locker room. I think what A.J. said is right. I think there's a conversation that needs to be had.

I'm not going to get into any specifics about any teams or organizations or whatever, but there's long since, the last few years, been rumblings of places that you need to be aware of stuff. And I think when you see yourself in the playoffs, you're going to protect yourself at all costs. That's why I think you see a lot of mound visits. You see a lot of multiple signs. And I mean you're just hyper aware of it.

Q. In that vein, given that cameras are everywhere, do you have any ideas how to make the sign stealing stuff go away, whether it's wireless headsets, the communication --
JUSTIN VERLANDER: It's a good question. You know, honestly, I think something that came up for me in talking about pace of game might also help, which is, like you said, some wireless -- you see in the NFL with the quarterback, a way to converse between pitcher and catcher and honestly between manager and catcher. I thought -- I brought this issue to MLB last year and thought that for pace of game that could probably save 20 minutes a game.

You think of all the signs everybody's going through -- between pitcher/catcher, manager/catcher, especially when a guy gets on second base, I mean the game comes to a halt when that happens because of all the technology and we know that you need to be aware of it.

But I think that can also help. It's not going to help pitch tipping, but I think it will help a lot with the sign stuff. And I think -- I mean, I think this is a lot to do about nothing. I think it's more peace of mind for the pitchers. Like I said, especially in the playoffs, you don't want there to be any lingering doubt of anything. You want the only reason you get beat to be because you got beat. You don't want to have to think it's something else. That's why you're seeing all these advanced signs.

Q. You recently made mention of preparing for the second half of your career. How long do you want to keep doing this? And are there certain goals in mind whether it's 300 wins or a certain age or innings? Is that something you think about?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: Not really. I mean, I'll play as long as I'm healthy. I think I've worked really hard the last five years to get my body healthy again.

I think ignorance was bliss early on in my career -- just kind of was healthy and didn't have to worry about it. And then all of a sudden, with not paying attention to it, some bad mechanics and ultimately surgery kind of crept in. And since then I feel like I've dramatically changed my career path and focused so much on health and maintenance before it becomes an issue. And because of that, man, I don't want to set a time.

I think, I look around and I talk to guys and I recover great. My body feels good. I feel just as good as I did when I was in my mid-20s. There's no specific time for me. I've always said I'll play until the wheels fall off. I love this game. I love the competition. I enjoy every aspect of it. And I don't foresee, like, a specific goal or time for me to step away. The game will tell me that.

Q. You said with the wireless communication, you said you brought that to MLB?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I mean there was a big discussion about pace of play moving into the season with the mound visits and all of that. And I think the first person I heard mention that was Girardi, maybe, a couple of years ago. And I thought it made a lot of sense.

I don't know how -- I don't know how you would work it. Obviously the technology is there between quarterbacks and their team. I don't know whether it would be a one-way thing. I don't know if a lot of pitchers would want to wear a thing. But honestly, just me being -- for me, somebody who calls my own game, for the most part, me being able to tell him what to throw -- or what I want to throw, I mean by the time the batter steps in there's no signals. There's nothing; we're ready to go.

And also, when guys get on base, you see it from the -- how often do you see a pitcher ready to go, batter ready to go, catcher ready to go, but we're still getting signals from the manager in the dugout whether it's pick-off or throw-over or pitch-out or whatever sign could possibly be coming, you've got to give a sign every single time.

And probably 95 percent of those are nothing, deke signs. I think it's something that could look into. Like A.J. said, there's a conversation that could be had about a lot of things right now. For me it's kind of a win-win personally. I think it speeds up the game quite a bit, and hopefully can help alleviate some of this stuff that we see from pitchers with all these multiple signs.

Q. You presented it to an MLB official?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I brought it to the players association and wanted them to mention it to MLB when this conversation was going on. And they said they would. I don't know what happened at that point. I know that we got limited mound visits out of this. I don't know what happened after that. (Laughter).

Q. Charlie's in here yesterday just kind of detailing what he's gone through to get himself ready. As somebody who has done this, how much do you appreciate the fact that he's willing to go through all this, put himself on the line with so few innings the last month? And what kind of respect does he have inside your clubhouse because of that and everything else?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: A lot. He's worked so hard this year to be able to go and take the ball every five days. And he's thrown so many innings and innings that he wasn't used to. And I honestly think this rest is good for him. There's nothing -- I think for his peace of mind he knows there's nothing structurally wrong; it's just a little bit of fatigue.

And he's always been a trouper. Ever since I've been here and I've known him, he wants the ball. His demeanor might not say that, but you know when he's out there he's a bulldog, he wants to go out there and give us a chance to win every single time.

For a long period of time this year he was one of the top three pitchers in baseball. That's the guy I expect to see tonight, and I've really enjoyed being on his team and watching him work.

Q. Alex Bregman is getting a lot of attention this month. Great plays yesterday and just playing great. What to you is the most impressive thing about his game?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: All of it. I think he does all the little things. He prepares. I mean, his glove at third base, for me, is phenomenal. I don't care what some metric says. I mean, my eyes -- I've been playing this game for a long time and he's phenomenal over there.

His bat, you know, he's always so focused. He's not going to let -- at no point in any game, and this includes 162 of them throughout the whole season, when it can get a little mundane -- he's never going to let himself get beat by himself. And as weird as that sounds, it's so easy to take off an at-bat, take off one pitch, or just not be prepared on one given day.

I've never seen him not prepare. I've never not seen him take an at-bat off or take a play off in the field. It's impressive. Lives, sleeps, eats baseball. Loves the game. And I think as a fan, he's somebody that I would pay to watch play. It's intense. It's fun to watch, man. I enjoy watching him play.

Q. When you were with the Tigers, the Astros were rebuilding. And you obviously joined them last year. There's always this lingering perception -- players have called the organization out accusing them of cheating or sign stealing, spin rate, all these things. What's been your perception since you've been with the organization about what really goes on? And I guess the second part of that is is it a case where everybody's doing something in baseball, and it's just a don't-get-caught situation?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I can't speak about anybody else, but I think the one thing this organization has done so well is to show you what makes you great. Me, for instance, I used to always throw two-seams to arm side and four-seams to the glove side of the plate. I did it for the better part of 13 years.

Then I got here and they basically told me my two-seam was just an ineffective four-seam. It didn't have any extra run, or a little extra run, and it didn't have any sink. Basically I was doing batters a favor by throwing it.

Seemed pretty easy to me: Stop throwing the two-seam. And I did, saw a lot of success with it. And just learned to pitch with that. And I think everybody that's come here -- you know, Gerrit and I talked a ton. Same conversation. Very similar conversation was had with him. And first time he had ever heard it, and that obviously led to a lot of conversations in spring training about pitch selection, how to utilize your weapons more efficiently more effectively.

I think that we've just kind of bred this atmosphere of talking pitching and everybody wants to help everybody on the staff. It's pretty unique, I think, with all the information we have here.

But I think to come back around to it, I think the ability for this organization to take the analytics and apply it right to you and help you understand it more as opposed to it being this -- I feel like this is probably the case in some other organizations, I don't know, but where it's very analytic against the player, and it's very separate, closed-door analytic and players do their thing. And it's probably not as easy as it seems to help the player as much as this organization does.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Justin.

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