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Big League Stew

Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander says he ‘wouldn’t mind’ a gay teammate

Big League Stew

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Gay athletes in pro sports is enough of a talking point these days that when baseball golden boy Justin Verlander sits down for a Barbara Walters-style interview with CNN, it's on the question list.

Verlander's take? The star pitcher — and once MVP — would be fine with a gay teammate on the Detroit Tigers. "Absolutely." "Wouldn't mind."

[Related: Detroit slugger Prince Fielder should take injured Mark Teixeira's WBC spot]

Below, you can watch the whole interview with CNN's Carol Costello — which also touches on his golf game and a potential $200 million contract — but here's the choice quote from Verlander on the hot-button topic:

"I don't think one of our players would be scared to come out. We got 25 guys, it's a family, and our goal is to win a World Series. What your sexual orientation is, I don't see how that affects the ultimate goal of our family."

New Tigers outfielder (and teammate) Torii Hunter might not be comfortable as Verlander. He made headlines a few months ago for saying the opposite. But these two are hardly the only ones in sports talking about sexuality.

Last week Mark Knudsen, a former MLB pitcher, wrote a column for Mile High Sports arguing that out-of-the-closet players aren't best for a team. His take? Players should wait until their athletic careers are over before coming out.

[Related: MLB should sprint, not jog, to full instant replay]

Meanwhile, the NFL is dealing with teams asking draft prospects about their sexual orientation. Chris Culliver's anti-gay rant from Super Bowl week hasn't gone away — even though he's seeking redemption. And players such as Brendon Ayanbadejo and Chris Kluwe continue to be outspoken gay rights advocates.

In sports, much like in the country at large, sexual orientation will continue to be a divisive issue. And athletes will continue to be asked about it.

Whether you agree or disagree with what Justin Verlander said, give him credit for this: He didn't dodge the question and he didn't sound like an idiot.

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