LAKELAND, Fla. — Two days after being told he would not be the Tigers’ opening day starter, Justin Verlander gave up three home runs in less than five innings of a 7-7 tie Sunday between Detroit’s split squad and the Washington Nationals.
Two days after learning David Price would be starting on opening day instead of him, the 2011 Cy Young Award and MVP winner’s spring training ERA inflated to 6.08.
“I have work to do on my slider,” Verlander said. “My slider has been about 50-50. I still have some tinkering to do before opening day.”
Michael Taylor had two homers for the Nationals, giving him three for the spring. Ian Stewart also homered off of Verlander. Stewart was 3 for 3.
Miguel Cabrera made his Grapefruit League debut on Sunday for Detroit, and went 1-for-3 with a single and two strikeouts.
“I have two starts left,” said Verlander, who gave up five runs in 4 1-3 innings. “I’m just not there yet. My fastball is getting better, but they hit some pretty good pitches.”
J.D. Martinez hit his fifth homer. Alex Avila also homered for Detroit.
Pitching in place of injured Stephen Strasburg, A.J. Cole made his second start for the Nationals and allowed two runs in 3 2-3 innings. He walked two and struck out five.
Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said he isn’t concerned about Verlander’s spring.
“Most of the runs he gave up were just from getting the ball up,” Ausmus said. “When he gets it where it needs to be it is really good.”
A.J. Cole made his second start of the spring for the Nationals and allowed two runs in 3 2-3 innings. He walked two and struck out five.
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