Q & A With Justin Verlander

Junior Justin Verlander is one of the most talented baseball players ever to grace the Old Dominion diamond. Professional scouts are all over this guy like white on rice. Justin is from Manakin-Sabot, Virginia, and there began his illustrious career at Goochland High School. His ERA in high school was a very impressive 0.38, with a144 strike out count, in 72 innings.

His other accomplishments include: pre-season First Team All American by "Baseball America," pre- season Third Team All-American by "Collegiate Baseball," 2003 First Team All-CAA selection, member of the Silver Medal winning, Team USA at the Pan American games; he compiled a 5-1 record with team USA, with a 1.29 ERA and had a 7-6 record for ODU.

He was leader of the CAA with 139 strikeouts in 116.1 innings, which was also a new ODU strikeout record for a pitcher in a single season, he also struck out 10 or more batters six times, and he was also a "Collegiate Baseball" pre-season pick for All-American selection.

When Justin arrived here at ODU, it was just a matter of time before his collegiate career would take off, and that's just what happened.

During a game against William and Mary this season, Justin was clocked at the amazing speed of 101 mph.

With speeds close to equaling Nolan Ryan, it is just a question of time before he'll be fanning pros.

After the game against the Tribe, (William and Mary) Mace and Crown was able to get an up-close and personal with the ODU Junior. Reprinted with permission by Mace and Crown, the Old Dominion University school newspaper.

Mace and Crown: Ok Justin, We know you have the OUU spirit. But, what if you faced off with fellow teammates in the bigs? Do you think perhaps that would mess up your concentration?

Justin Verlander: No that's not problem, no not at all.

M&C: What is your routine, if any, for getting your self mentally prepared to face some of the best hitters the CAA has to offer?

JV: Yeah, I put my jersey on a certain way and my socks always right to left, besides that I just do the warm up drills with the rest of the team and make sure my arm is loose.

M&C: Did you ever find it was difficult to manage baseball and school?

JV: A little as a freshman, but not anymore.

M&C: Did you ever play other positions besides pitcher?

JV: Yes in high school I played in the outfield too.

M&C: So obviously you're going pro right? I mean eventually?

JV: Yeah, hopefully.

M&C: So are you for or against designated hitters?

JV: Ohm, hmm that's…difficult to say.

M&C: I guess what I am asking is, do you think DHs improve pitchers longevity?

JV: Yeah, I mean, I don't mind though, I like to hit, I'd play in the National League, so... yeah I like hitting. It doesn't mater to me.

M&C: Did you ever hit here?

JV: No, I could have. Coach told me if I got some work in with hitting coach he would let me hit but, like what we were talking about earlier, there was just so much time involved.

M&C: Could you elaborate for our readers on what evolves a pitcher out there? For instance what makes someone a starter, reliever, or a closer?

JV: Basically starters are guys that have good stuff and usually they have three or four pitches that they can throw for strikes consistently, ah… relievers are unusually young or maybe their stuff isn't as good yet, closers unusually have really good stuff and they can come in and just close the door but usually they only have one or two pitches.

M&C: When you started you new catcher here how long did it take to get that perfect battery chemistry? Was it like an instantaneous thing?

JV: You know, it takes time for the catchers to learn me and it takes time for me to learn the catchers, and it is still a process and you know, we are still working on stuff.

M&C: Have you noticed that bats are getting livelier and livelier? Especially in the MLB. Do you think it has to do with game number? Do think by the time you get there HRs will be in the 80's or even the 90's maybe?

JV: No, No, I don't think so. I think if it starts getting like that Major League Baseball will do something about it. They'll be like "hey," this is getting kind of ridiculous.

M&C: Like I was saying earlier, your high school record was amazing. Did you bring any of the skills that you learned in high school to the CAA?

JV: No. In high school I could just throw it by everybody and you know, I really had to learn to pitch more here.

M&C: Even before High school...little league.

JV: I always had a good arm. I mean even back then I always threw hard as crap.

M&C: Were did you get you skills from? Your dad maybe?

JV: Nope.

M&C: Just a natural?

JV: I have know idea. I can't say why, my grandma was a good athlete but that's about it.

M&C: Do you know who's been scouting you?

JV: Everybody.

M&C: Do you think your mentality has changed on the mound during you time at ODU?

JV: Ah yeah, sometimes when I was a freshman I was sort of immature and I would go out there and not really pitch sometimes and let my emotions get the best of me while now I can calm down and take a breather and just bring myself under control.

M&C: Do you think that any kind of performance enhancing drugs should be allowed? Even the legal ones?

JV: No I don't like them and I think they should be completely outlawed. Well I guess the legal ones are ok but, I think steroids in general are wrong. You know that's a cheap way just to get ahead of everybody else.

M&C: Just a little about pitching ethics. I realize that throwing at a batter intentionally is not right, but what about brushing that batter back out of the box a little?

JV: No you have to. Especially in college baseball with an aluminum bat, if don't push them off and they are always looking for that outside pitch, man, they could hit it a mile. You have to back them off.

M&C: We really appreciate you doing this for us, but just a couple more questions. Alright Justin, Pete Rose in or out man? (I felt bad about asking him this one).

JV: Wow. That's a tough one. Give me a sec…..ah…. I will have to say…out? (Much thought out response)

M&C: What is the most challenging match up you have pitched against this season?

JV: Actually it was against William and Mary. They got me there in the 6th.

M&C: Last question. Do you try to emulate your style after any particular player?

JV: JV: (Without hesitation) Nolan Ryan.

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