Justin Verlander clearly understands that baseball is a business.
So as he walked off the mound at Comerica Park following seven strong innings Monday night against Kansas City, and he heard the Motown crowd rise to its feet in a loud ovation, the reality of the situation began to hit him: It may have been the last time he walked off the field as a member of the Detroit Tigers – the only big-league team he’s ever known.
“I guess there might be a fleeting moment where you say this might be the last time,” Verlander said of the ovation, according to Jason Beck of MLB.com. “But it’s very fleeting.”
On this Monday night, Verlander turned in a vintage performance for the Tigers faithful, striking out nine on five hits while allowing just three runs over his seven frames. And he did so with plenty of eyeballs on him, as scouts – including from the Chicago Cubs, according to Beck – were in the stands charting his performance.
Thanks to his expensive contract, age, and rough 2017 season, the Tigers will likely have to kick in some cash to move him – something they’re reportedly now willing to do. In addition, Verlander has full no-trade protection and can veto any deal presented to him.
For now, though, Verlander is still a Tiger. And on Monday night, despite his club dropping a 5-3 decision to the visiting Royals in 12 innings, he was savoring every moment of that ovation at Comerica – just in case that ended up being his goodbye to the city and team where he’ll forever be a legendary figure in Tigers history.
“You don’t know what’s gonna happen,” he said. “Maybe I wish I could go back and say thank you, but maybe there’s more of those to come.
“All I know is that I heard it (the ovation), I felt it, I appreciated it, and I love these fans. And I’m glad that they acknowledged that.”