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October 12, 2011

Justin Verlander


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Justin Verlander.

Q. How do you prepare mentally the night before a big game? Is there something special you do?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: No, nothing special, really. Just try to keep pretty much the same routine. When I'm at home, I do eat at Taco Bell, as weird as that sounds. I'm not the healthiest eater in the world.
I try to stay loose and not get all tense up. Just get a pretty good night's sleep and that's pretty much it.

Q. Justin, amazing season, of course, but maybe not quite as precise more recently than earlier on. Are you tired?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: No, I feel good. It's just a matter of getting my mechanics right. The entire season is really a roller coaster as to not only how you feel, how your mechanics are, how locked in you are.
I feel like the first couple of starts just not quite right. I've gone in runs where I've kind of gotten in my rhythm. But it's also been tough to find it because I've gotten rained out after an inning. I've gotten rained out after four innings. It's been kind of tough.
I found it the one game after the Yankees after the first couple, I found a pretty good rhythm. I felt -- I was able to go eight innings. It's tough to really get in a groove when you keep getting cut short.
But, hey, I'm not making any excuses whatsoever. I have to go out there and pitch better than I have and really establish a rhythm from the get-go and maintain my feel throughout the game.

Q. Have you seen the forecast for tomorrow?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I'm sure it involves rain.

Q. Jim Leyland had said they're not starting you today for the good of you. Did you push to try and pitch today?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: Yes, I went and talked to him a few times. I told him I would be ready. I told him if he needs me, put me out there. He just kept saying no, no, no. I finally went in there and said, hey, I'm going to prepare to throw Game 4. You make the decision after that. I'll just let you know I'll be ready.
Like I said a couple of times, he got a lot of flack for not having me in the bullpen for Game 5 in Yankee Stadium. It worked out pretty well. Myself, our team, we have the utmost faith in him, in his decision-making. Whenever my number is called is when I go out there.

Q. The forecast is for rain. It's Michigan. Who knows what's going to happen. If it is an extra day of rest, is that helpful or does that feed into what you were saying about getting into a rhythm and getting this done?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I don't know. I haven't really planned for an extra day. If I get it, I don't know what I would do. I don't think that would affect me one way or another. It doesn't surprise me that there's rain in the forecast.

Q. Justin, these games are so nerve-racking for the fans. The fans really feel the pressure. You guys say you don't.
Doug Fister, for example, says he's just focused on that next pitch. I guess the question is generally how do you do that? How do you lock all the other stuff out?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: Well, I think most of the nervousness, adrenaline all that stuff comes the day before -- not the day before, the day of, before you get out there on the mound you start getting anxious and want to get out there.
Once you step out on the mound, once you've delivered that first pitch, this is something that most of us have done our entire lives. So it's just kind of second nature. You learn to deal with it, even through little league. It's a little league game, but you had big games.
The pressure is no less back then just because you weren't at the Major League level. You still put a lot of pressure on yourself.
So I think as a baseball player over time you learn to deal with it. I've been pitching off the mound since I was nine years old. Once I get out there and get going in the rhythm of the game and everything, everything else just is in the past.

Q. Justin, Jim also said he thought maybe you were tired. Are you? Is your arm fatigued right now?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: No, I feel good. My last start my body, my arm didn't feel great. But that happened plenty of times throughout the season. It's going to happen.
I've worked real hard to be strong this time of year. And I feel like I do. I don't think there's anything else I can do. I feel good. Just need to get my mechanics in order. I worked pretty hard. Threw two bullpen sessions between last start and this one.
I've done everything I can possibly do to get myself prepared. Now it's a matter of going out there and doing it.

Q. I don't know if it's legitimate to look for the flip side for all the rain and the interruptions. But in two weeks you've thrown 13 innings. Is it possible you saved some bullets and you might be stronger than you might expect at this point?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I don't think so. I would rather have thrown as many bullets as I normally do. Like I said, try to keep myself in rhythm.
I'm somebody -- I base what I do off of feel a lot. If something is wrong, I like to feel it. I like to go out there and throw off the bullpen mound. I like to feel myself getting in the rhythm on the mound during the game.
It's kind of tough for me when things get shortened. Like you said, I've only had 13 innings through two weeks. But, hey, doesn't matter. Go out there and do it.

Q. You said after your rain shortened start last time when you were throwing underneath you found something in your mechanics. Do you still feel you have what you found?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: Yes, like I said, I threw twice, two bullpen sessions in between. That was the reason, because I wanted to work on that. I felt like I was flying off the ball, pretty bad with my front side.
You know, felt like I fixed it. Threw two bullpen sessions. It was a little bit inconsistent the first time. I felt like I got better the next time. Once you go out there on the mound in the game you don't worry about that stuff. That's why I threw two bullpen sessions to try to create that muscle memory and get my body back where it needs to be.
Then once you go out there, you don't worry about that stuff. You just go out there and do whatever you can to get guys out.

Q. Justin, how does that happen? I know it happens to hitters too where you get into a lock and everything is going great, and then you get out of it and it's hard to find it back.
JUSTIN VERLANDER: It just happens. That's just the way it is. You're never going to be perfect in an entire season. I went on a couple of stretches this season where I had been as good as I had been in my career.
But even in that time, even when I'm going as good as I can go, there's still things that fall out of whack and you have to work to get it back. It's just a matter of how quickly you can get it back. I've been pretty good this year at getting myself back to where I need to be.
In an efficient and quick manner. This is no exception. I'm taking the same men start I have all year. The only difference being I haven't had the opportunity to throw as many innings as I would have liked to work on it.

Q. You've talked before about how you kind of changed your approach when you were a younger pitcher to now, to sort of not throwing as hard really in games and things like that. Can you talk about and describe how that process went for you when you were younger to now and the challenges of that of trying to sort of harness the last year --
JUSTIN VERLANDER: When you first get up, it's kind of hard to believe that at this level you can take 90% of your effort and still be very successful.
You get so amped up for a start and you're facing the best players in the world, you feel like if you give anything less than 100%, you're going to get your butt kicked.
But over time, just logging innings and kind of messing, tinkering around with that, trying to go easy early on, sometimes it works, sometimes it didn't.
But this year I just kind of really bought into it into the fact that I can create a rhythm for myself and be in control of my body better and pound the strike zone early, more early in the games. I went ahead and went with it.
The results obviously speak for themselves. And I feel like I was somebody who was blessed with the ability to do that because I've got a pretty good arm. My 92 or 93% is around that velocity as to where some guys that throw that hard, they can't back down, because then they're throwing 86, 87.
So I feel like I'm one of the few people that's able to do that efficiently.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Justin.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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