JV anticipating 'exciting, weird' return to Detroit

Astros ace to make first visiting start at Comerica Park tonight

September 8th, 2018

BOSTON -- For the first time in his 14-year big league career, will pitch a game at Comerica Park as a visitor.

For 13 seasons, the right-hander served as the ace of the Tigers' staff before moving to the Astros in a waiver-wire deal last August and helping the club capture its first World Series title.

Two days before his Monday night start in which he'll return to face the club that helped to mold him into one of the game's best pitchers, Verlander wasn't quite sure how to feel about the moment, though he knows that emotions will surely take over once it happens.

"I'm excited about it. I don't know really yet what the emotional reaction from myself will be," Verlander said on Saturday. "I know it's going to be exciting. I know it's going to be weird. I don't really know -- I think that's something you just can't plan. I'm just going to see what I feel like when I get out there."

The seven-time All-Star has already faced his former teammates on July 15 in Houston -- a game that saw him fan 12 and serve up four home runs.

Verlander knows that this time around will be more unconventional, having received advice from another of the game's top arms, who had already experienced the same thing.

"I actually talked to [Red Sox pitcher Chris] Sale about this at the All-Star Game, because he said the first time he went back and pitched against the White Sox he gave up like seven runs," said Verlander. "Baseball gods are funny, man. The first game I pitched against [the Tigers] was one of the weirdest games I've had. Some of the best stuff I had, but yet gave up four homers, so it was a really odd game. It is what it is. It'll be different no matter what in Comerica."

Asked about his favorite Detroit memories, the 2011 America League Most Valuable Player and Cy Young Award winner found it hard to narrow it down, saying simply, "There's so many."

Verlander was able to cite a few, including having the opportunity to watch blossom into a Hall of Fame-worthy player and being able to address and thank the crowd in postgame interviews on the field.

Joking that he hopes Monday Night Football -- the Lions play the Jets -- doesn't detract people from showing up, Verlander knows that there was and always will be a special bond between him and Tigers fans.

"I try to not expect anything," Verlander said. "I know that those fans know I gave everything I had for a long time, for the better part of 13 years there. Blood, sweat, tears, every ounce of effort I possibly could to help bring a championship to that city. The love they've shown me has been spectacular throughout my whole career."