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Justin Verlander staying mum on alleged celebrity photo theft scandal

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Aug 29, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander (35) throws against the Chicago White Sox during the first inning at U.S Cellular Field. (David Banks-USA TODAY Sports)

Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander and girlfriend Kate Upton were among several celebrities whose private — and in some cases very personal — photos were allegedly stolen by hackers who tapped into their phones and published them on the internet.

The scandal has garnered much attention on gossip sites and social media since blowing up over the weekend, but many of the parties directly involved have remained mostly silent. That includes Verlander, who on Tuesday attempted to deflect attention from the scandal and keep it strictly on baseball while meeting with the media.   

From The Detroit Press:

"I'm not going to comment on my personal life," Verlander said in the Tigers' clubhouse before tonight's game against the Cleveland Indians. "I never have, and I never plan on it. I keep my personal life personal.

"The focus for me is on the Detroit Tigers. I don't want to take any focus away from this team and what we're trying to accomplish. We're in the middle of a pennant race. We're trying to win a pennant. And all of my focus currently is on doing whatever I can to help our team win our division."

The photos, which in some instances appear to show Verlander and Upton in states of undress, are believed to be taken over a period beginning in June of 2013 and extending through July of 2014. Deadspin has put together a partial timeline utilizing Exif data that helps connect Verlander to the photos in question.

Upton's legal team has already vowed legal action against those involved in the alleged hacking. It's reported the FBI is now fully involved in the investigation. 

The timing couldn't be much worse for Verlander on a personal or professional level. Obviously, he'll be counted on by the Tigers to contribute on a high level as they battle the Kansas City Royals down the stretch, but that's already been potentially compromised by shoulder issues. Now this becomes a talking point that will likely follow him and the team around in the coming weeks, even as they try to brush it aside.

Will it be a major distraction? Not likely.

These guys are professionals, after all. But as long as it's there and discussed it will be somewhere in their minds, which definitely makes it a nuisance. And nobody appreciates a nuisance. 

As for Verlander, he'll get his first real test (and/or chance to escape the drama) on Wednesday. He's scheduled to start against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field. 

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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