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October 3, 2006

Justin Verlander


Q. Growing up, sort of in Orioles country, did you ever watch Mussina pitch on TV and if so what did you gather from watching him?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: Absolutely. I used to watch him all the time. Without a doubt, a great pitcher. Really knows how to set up hitters and use his stuff. You know, it's kind of an honor to throw against him.

Q. Is this an intimidating setting at all, Yankee Stadium, the lineup that you're facing?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I think it could be, if I let it, but I can't really think about that too much. I've just got to go out and try to do what I've done all year and not let the situation get the best of me.

Q. You've pretty much passed every test that you've had, got to the Major Leagues so quickly, managed to pitch the entire season, do you look at this as maybe another test that's coming to you maybe a little faster than what people thought?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: It's definitely a new test. You know, post-season is just another thing that I haven't experienced yet, just like everything else was this year.
But like I said, if I treat it different, then you know, something might change, but I'm just going to treat it the same way as the regular season and try not to get too excited or let my emotions get carried away.

Q. Do you have to pitch any differently against the lineup, that's as strong top-to-bottom as they have, versus how you do it against other teams?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I think that's where you might be able to get in trouble is if you pitch differently or change your approach to these guys. I'm going to continue to do what I've done all year, be aggressive and just go after them.

Q. Speaking of great pitching, did you get a chance to watch Zito and Johan Santana today and what do you think of their artistry?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I didn't have a chance to watch him. I was out doing a little shopping in New York. (Laughter.)

Q. Overall, how are you feeling, how have you kept in shape and do you expect to be pretty sharp tomorrow night?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I feel good. Obviously I missed my last start against Kansas City. Arm feels great right now. I feel like it's coming back strong, and the two previous times I did this, I came back and felt good, so there's no reason to think it wouldn't be the same way now.

Q. Would you talk about the level of respect that exists for Mike Mussina around the league and what he's accomplished?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: Well, there's obviously a great respect for him. You know, obviously a great pitcher, one of the best in the League, not only this year but for a long time now.
So not only do I have respect for him, but I think the baseball community generally does. It's going to be fun to pitch against him.

Q. Can you talk about the ferocity of this Yankees lineup and how there's no let-up from top to bottom?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: There is no let-up, 1 through 9, they're good hitters all the way through. You can't tip-toe around one guy to get to the next guy. Every guy in that lineup is able to hurt you.
It's tough and I think that's why you've got to be aggressive.

Q. There was a lot made this year about the innings piling up for you. What kind of effect do you think that had during the second half, and how much did you need this little extra rest before the start?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: Well, there's definite fatigue going on. I was a little bit tired. But I don't think I needed it 100%, I could have pitched. I think we were all under -- we had a meeting, myself, Skip, the trainers and we were all under the assumption I could have gone. But it was best that I miss one and get ready for post-season.
Once we came to that decision, we're sticking with it and we're good.

Q. Where did you go shopping today and what did you think of New York prices?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: It was all right. A little Saks, a little Fifth Avenue, whatever, just walking around.

Q. Saks Fifth Avenue?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: Yeah. I didn't buy anything there, I was just looking. (Laughter.)

Q. Just wondering if any level, from little league on, have you ever seen anything like this Yankee lineup?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: They are pretty tough to get out when the ball is sitting up on a tee. That was probably the only better lineup I faced than these guys. I had the opportunity to face them before, but they had some guys out with the same lineup, but this is going to be tough. This is a challenge, no doubt about it, and I'm excited.

End of FastScripts...

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