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Mexico Series a new experience for Verlander

@alysonfooter
May 4, 2019

MONTERREY, Mexico -- After 14 years in the big leagues and with a resume as stacked as his, Justin Verlander doesn’t come across a lot of unfamiliar territory at this stage of his stellar Major League career. That’s partly why he’s looking forward to starting the second and final game

MONTERREY, Mexico -- After 14 years in the big leagues and with a resume as stacked as his, Justin Verlander doesn’t come across a lot of unfamiliar territory at this stage of his stellar Major League career.

That’s partly why he’s looking forward to starting the second and final game of the Mexico Series on Sunday at Estadio de Beisbol in Monterrey against the Angels, because it’s something he’s never done before.

“There aren’t a lot of new experiences in this game -- like completely new -- for me in 14 years,” he said. “So this is something fun.”

Verlander has pitched in 30 Major League ballparks since debuting as a 22-year-old with the Tigers in 2005. The only time he’s pitched in a foreign country (other than Canada) was when he was in college and made an appearance in the Dominican Republic as part of Team USA.

Noting that this is the third installment of the Mexico Series, Verlander doesn’t have many concerns about field conditions or any drawbacks that may come with pitching in an unfamiliar environment. A few hours before Saturday’s game, he said he was planning to go onto the field and get a feel for the ballpark, so that he has a little bit of familiarity before he throws his warmup tosses before first pitch Sunday.

Verlander recalled doing the same before his first postseason start with the Tigers in 2006 when he faced the Yankees, at Yankee Stadium, despite having never stepped foot into the historic ballpark prior to that series.

“The night before, I went out to the mound and kind of stood there and looked around and took it all in,” he said. “I didn’t want my first ever experience standing on that mound at old Yankee Stadium to be when I got on it [for the game], when pitches mattered. I probably will do the same thing today.”

Viva La Mexico

Alex Trevino has been involved with baseball since 1974, debuted in the big leagues in 1978 and has spent the past 23 years behind the mic as an Astros broadcaster, calling the games for the team’s Spanish-language affiliate.

The Monterrey native is home this weekend, and he was exuberant in his pride for his team and his country when speaking of the Astros’ trip to his hometown.

“I feel like I’m having a dream,” he said. “Since I got to the States, I always preached that Monterrey is the capital of Mexico. It’s wild [to be here] and to me, I’m very glad for my countrymen. They’re going to be able to see a high level of baseball. These two teams have elite talent and hopefully they enjoy this too. I hope this isn’t the last time they’re here.”

Trevino played for the Mets, Reds, Astros, Dodgers, Giants and Braves during his 13-year Major League career. His broadcasting career began with the Astros in 1997.

Fisher added to roster

Per international rules, the Astros and Angels each added one position player to their rosters for the Mexico Series. The Angels called up infielder/outfielder Taylor Ward, while Houston opted for outfielder Derek Fisher, who was recalled from Triple-A Round Rock.

Fisher was hitting .296 (24-for-81) with six homers and 14 RBIs for the Express at the time of his promotion.

“He’s played well,” Houston manager AJ Hinch said. “He’s earned the opportunity, albeit a quick, two-day, 26th-man opportunity. He got off to a really hot start. He’s been with this team before, he’s got speed and he gives us another threat off the bench as a left-handed bat.”

Astros signed Mexican pitcher

Talk about good timing. On Saturday, while in Mexico, the Astros announced that they added a Mexico native to their organization, with the signing of 17-year-old right-hander Jaime Melendez.

Melendez, lauded for his command of four pitches -- fastball, changeup, curveball and slider -- most recently pitched for the Sultanes de Monterrey of the Mexican League.

Astros president and general manager Jeff Luhnow noted Melendez’s “aptitude for how to pitch,” a common trait among pitchers who are groomed in the Mexican League, which focuses heavily on pitching development.

Melendez is now the ninth Mexican pitcher in the Astros’ organization.

Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter.