Verlander renews quest for first hit on Saturday

Verlander renews quest for first hit on Saturday

Verlander renews quest for first hit on Saturday
CINCINNATI -- Justin Verlander has a more mature outlook on batting this year as he renews his quest for his first Major League hit. Just don't mind the photographic memory he seemingly has for every ball he has put in play.

There's the fly ball to the warning track at Wrigley Field as a rookie in 2006 that drew a standing ovation. There's the well-hit line drive to right field he remembers off San Francisco's Tim Lincecum at AT&T Park in 2008.

He remembers it all. He's just not going to obsess over it, he says.

"I think I'm a little less conscious about it now," Verlander said Friday. "Before, it was, 'Oh boy, hit, hit, hit.' Now, it's just kind of, I work on it, I went out there and got my practice and actually made some adjustments and felt like I've got a better swing than I had before, but I'm not worried about it.

"It's going to be fun. I always love it, but I feel like a fish out of water when I'm up there."

Still, when Verlander planted the idea in manager Jim Leyland's head about starting on his regular rest Thursday at Wrigley Field rather than Friday at home against Colorado, Leyland immediately questioned the motivations.

"I went out there and told him, 'Skip, I really don't need an extra day [of rest in] back-to-back [starts]. If you want to shorten it up and put me on regular rest, I'm ready to go,'" Verlander said. "And he was like, 'All right, I'll think about it.' And about five seconds later, he said, 'You know what, you're slick. You just want to hit.'"

Actually, Leyland isn't ruling it out. If he moves up Verlander, he'll skip rookie left-hander and Illinois native Casey Crosby, whose turn in Detroit's rotation would come up in the middle game of that series Wednesday night.

Even if Verlander really no longer considers hitting a big deal, sometimes he just can't help himself. He saved his best one-liner for last as his interview was wrapping up.

"I've got to be careful," he said. "If I hit one out and I pimp it, I can actually get hit."