04/28/09 8:41 PM ET
Leyland to Verlander: Just be you
Skipper tries to take expectations off righty's shoulders
By Jason Beck / MLB.com
Leyland thinks Verlander was trying awfully hard to get results and wanted it too much; the righty thinks there's no such thing as wanting success too much. The skipper doesn't think Verlander should have to feel like the ace of the staff, but Verlander seems to strive for it.
Still, they agree on one important thing: Verlander's seven-plus scoreless innings on Tuesday did not comprise his first solid outing of the season.
"He had a couple bookends of rough starts, but he had two other good starts this year, too," Leyland said. "So he's basically three out of five right now. Maybe the results aren't what he wanted or how he hoped it turned out, but this son of a gun's pitched well three out of five times. That's my point to the whole thing.
"He's so focus that everybody acts like he's been pitching terrible all year and all of a sudden pitched a good game. He pitched two great games. He's not supposed to be 'the guy.' Just be Justin Verlander. We don't need him to be 'the guy.'"
That goes back to expectations, not just what the Tigers expect from Verlander, but what he expects from himself.
"I just want him to be himself," Leyland said. "He doesn't have to carry that. He disagrees with me, but that's my point. That's why I disagree with him. A lot of it's not his fault, because his first couple years, the expectations [rose], and rightfully so. It's not the media's fault.
"But every time he doesn't pitch good, it's like the end of the world. It's not the end of the world. He's pitched three out of five good games."
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.