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JV, Cole, Rodgers face live hitters at camp

Verlander: 'Everything is a building block at this point'; prospect Martin learning from veterans
February 17, 2019

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- The first live bullpen sessions of the spring typically draw a crowd, and that certainly was the case when Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Brady Rodgers faced hitters for the first time Sunday afternoon on the back fields at Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.:: Spring

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- The first live bullpen sessions of the spring typically draw a crowd, and that certainly was the case when Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Brady Rodgers faced hitters for the first time Sunday afternoon on the back fields at Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.
:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::
Verlander, pitching without the security of a screen in front of him, went first and threw 28 pitches to three hitters: catcher Garrett Stubbs, who's in big league camp, and Minor League catchers Scott Manea and Stephen Wrenn.
"It's a good opportunity to see where you're at and check your stamina," Verlander said. "That's what it's all about at this point."
Verlander and Cole threw a "heavy" bullpen session the day before pitchers and catchers reported, so this was their third time on the mound in camp. Verlander spun a few curveballs that he didn't locate well and tossed a couple of changeups, which he continues to refine.
"It is a building block, but I think everything is a building block at this point," Verlander said. "If you don't pay attention to detail when you're building a foundation, everything else crumbles. I think this is the first step of many, but I think Gerrit and I both pay attention to the details and talked about it afterwards, and we were both pleased."
Cole threw 25 pitches and focused on pitch quality while pushing endurance.
"You certainly don't want to sacrifice either or not achieving the type of quality that you want," Cole said. "I thought they were both in check at pitch 24, so I just threw one extra [pitch] in there."

Around the horn
It's right-hander Corbin Martin's first time in Major League camp, which means keeping a close eye on how the veteran pitchers go about their work. Martin, ranked No. 81 on MLB Pipeline's Top 100 Prospects list, has already bent the ear of veteran pitcher Collin McHugh while paying attention to how Verlander, Cole and Wade Miley do things.
"It's a great experience," Martin said. "It's something I've been working for, and being around these guys has been a good start already. I've been learning a lot of stuff already from the older guys and seeing how they work and learn from that. Just try to do my best to show them that I've been working hard and competing with the best."
What has stood out for Martin so far is how prepared the veterans are when they throw.
"It's crazy, man," Martin said. "They're barely missing spots and getting frustrated, and I'm seeing that's the details that it takes. Just the small things like that -- I'm taking everything in."
Martin, 23, posted a 9-2 record and a 2.51 ERA in 25 games (21 starts) between Double-A Corpus Christi and Class A Advanced Buies Creek last season, raising his stock. He struck out 122 in 122 innings, and opponents batted just .199 against him. He grew up in the Houston area as an Astros fan, and he was at the game in 2007 in which Craig Biggio got his 3,000th hit.
"I was way up at the top with my buddy," Martin said. "At the time, I didn't know the importance of it. Looking back on it, I was like, 'OK, now I realize why everybody went crazy.'"

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.