Mets newcomer Justin Verlander pitches 3 innings in spring debut

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Justin Verlander pitched both as a NL player and with a pitch clock for the first time in his career on Saturday. He said he wished the NL part had happened sooner.

“When guys like me were still hitting,” he joked.

There’s no telling how much his point total could have topped the current total of 3,198.

Verlander’s first experience with the clock went reasonably well, as did his pitching in general, as the 40-year-old New York Mets rookie made his spring debut.

Coming off his third Cy Young Award and a World Series championship with Houston, he threw just seven balls in 35 pitches while allowing one run in three innings, striking out three in a 15-4 win over the Miami Marlins.

“The field watch was something I wanted to get used to,” he said. “There might be a couple of little tweaks I need to make there. Maybe one or two things, but not major, so that’s fine.

“The first part of the inning is something I want to speed up just one time,” Verlanded added. “Specifically, I kind of walk around the back of the mound. I almost get between the pitcher’s mound and second base. If I just stay closer to the mound and clean up the time it takes to walk, the two or three seconds . — When I get on the mound and get the sign, I’m going to be completely comfortable with the time I have left. I really never want to throw a pitch without conviction behind it. I don’t want to just throw something. because we ran out of time.”

Except for a Mets fielding error in the first, Verlander would have had a scoreless outing. He walked none and struck out twice.

“My control felt pretty good,” he said. “I don’t want to be too picky at this time of year. For the first time in competition, you have to allow your body to get used to moving fast again. To begin with, it ticked all the boxes that I would like. .

“The eye test was pretty good. The second thing is to look at some of the metrics. To be able to walk away and say, ‘Okay, one, I came out healthy, and two, my stuff was beautiful.’ well, the location was pretty good and the low speed was pretty good… I think those were all big positives,” he added.

A big leaguer since 2006, Verlander is experimenting with a changeup for the first time.

“The first one felt really good,” he said. “I loved the swing and miss. The second (hitter) hit me right away, so I didn’t like that. But he didn’t hit as hard.”

Verlander is 244-133 in his career with Detroit and Houston and has nearly $87 million more in his pocket after signing a two-year contract with the Mets. His $35 million team option becomes a player option for 2025 if he works at least 140 innings next year when he turns 41.

The right-hander said former Tigers teammate Max Scherzer was the only Mets player he really knew when he signed, which made things “a little nerve-wracking. But the new experiences, the new challenges are what help you write fun new chapters in your life. book.”

Verlander said he wishes he had gone to the next World Baseball Classic.

“I turned it down for a lot of obvious reasons,” he said, “one of which was Tommy John surgery and last year was the first year back. And the World Series (2022). I didn’t have time off.” .

“Unfortunately, it didn’t make a lot of sense,” he said.

Verlander stopped after one of his three innings to greet Ron Kulpa, the plate umpire. Kulpa pitched the first of Verlander’s three no-hitters in Detroit on June 12, 2007. It was the first of Kulpa’s two no-hitters.

“The story about it is hanging in my office. I just looked at it the other day,” said Kulpa, who now lives in Boca Raton, Florida. “I can’t believe it was (Verlander).”

The difference with Verlander now, Kulpa said, is that he’s a smarter pitcher.

“He’s not that much of a power pitcher,” Kulpa said. “He could throw then, but he’s just not throwing 99 or 100. Now it’s 96, 95.”

Mets manager Buck Showalter, referring to the pair of changes, said, “Guys like (Verlander) are always looking for another look, just another thing, that before meetings, guys have to prepare for stand up for”.

Report from The Associated Press.

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