Justin Verlander wishes you'd ignore the stats and just trust him

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Don't look at spring statistics, Justin Verlander asks.

OK, I promise not to look OH JEEZ.

I looked.

Verlander has allowed six earned runs, nine hits and nine walks over 9 1/3 innings for the Tigers in Grapefruit League play so far. Verlander walked four in two innings against the Yankees on Wednesday.

As a fan in the stands at Joker Marchant Stadium noted during Verlander's struggles, "He's all over the place!"

All part of the plan, folks, so Verlander says. Detroit's ace right-hander personified his team's nosedive in '08 by going 11-17 with a 4.84 ERA. For the Tigers to rebound, Verlander must also rebound.

The bounce is coming, Verlander said. He can feel it.

"I definitely feel like today was a lot better than the statistics show," Verlander said. "Yeah, there were a lot of walks but in between there were a lot of good pitches. I’m the only one that knows how they felt."

The 2006 AL Rookie of the Year and '07 AL All-Star claims to be rejoining us shortly. We just have to trust him. Trusting what a baseball player says, I don't know...

Anyway, it's 3 1/2 weeks to opening day. In Joba Chamberlain's world, that's like tomorrow. In Verlander's, it's 3 1/2 weeks.

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"I got plenty of time," Verlander said. "My first couple years, I remember that I didn’t get everything down, timing-wise, until — one year, it was the last (spring) start against the Yankees. I was all over the place until everything clicked."

All over the place. He gets there a lot during spring training. Well, it's only four spring appearances. Anybody have Sandy Koufax's spring stats handy? Didn't think so.

Verlander is trying to work out a mechanical flaw in his landing leg that causes the ball to sail. Notice how stiff his left leg is in the first photo. That's bad. He wants a little forward bend in the knee. Sometimes, it's there, like in the second photo.

Now is the time — not the middle of the season — for Verlander to work on his mechanics.

"No, that’s what’s spring training’s for," said Verlander said, who asserts that good things are happening despite the box scores.

"I think the ball is jumping out of my hand the best it has in a long time," Verlander said. "I feel like I’m ahead of the curve right now. If I continue the pace that I’m on, I’ll be able to take the next four starts and really hone in on that."