Justin Verlander was angry and scared in Pittsburgh on Monday night. A calmer, more relaxed Verlander met the media at his locker Wednesday afternoon.
Verlander expressed relief over the MRI exam he underwent Tuesday, which revealed no structural damage to his right pitching shoulder. He was removed after giving up five first-inning runs to the Pirates with soreness in his multi-million-dollar shoulder.
Verlander laid down a bunt when his turn to bat came up, then stormed into the clubhouse. He admitted after the game to being worried what the MRI would show.
With starter Anibal Sanchez and reliever Joakim Soria getting injured over the weekend and the team losing a 19-inning game Sunday, Verlander was hoping to give the team a long outing.
"My last start in Pittsburgh, when I came out of the game, that's the toughest game I've ever had to watch in my career because I knew they needed me and I tried to gut it out and stay out there but (manager) Brad (Ausmus) wouldn't let me do it," he said. "After I had time to calm down and think about it, I think that was the right decision. But it was hard for me to watch."
Verlander said he has some tendinitis and capsulitis in the affected area. He hopes that he will miss only one start and return to the mound next week.
"Right now, the plan is not to go on the DL, which is great," said Verlander, who is 10-11 with a 4.76 ERA in 25 starts. "I've never been on the DL in my career, and I don't plan to be now."
The loss of Sanchez (pectoral muscle strain) will be tough enough for the team to absorb. A prolonged absence by Verlander would have been devastating, considering the non-waiver trade deadline passed and the minor league options are unpalatable. Buck Farmer, who has made only two starts above Class A, was called up for a spot start Wednesday. He gave up four runs in five innings, and the Tigers went on to beat the Pirates 8-4.
Fortunately for Verlander, the concern about his ability to pitch the remainder of the season is shrinking.
"I'm as happy as I could be, given the situation," he said. "Obviously, you're kind of thinking the worst and hoping for the best. It seemed like I got the best news possible."