Justin Verlander wants to hit in the Home Run Derby

Justin Verlander wants in on the Home Run Derby at the MLB All-Star Game, and the Detroit Tigers ace is trying to launch a write-in campaign to get himself in the event.

The whole thing started when a fan tweeted to Verlander on Friday telling him she voted for the pitcher to participate in the Derby:

Verlander loved the idea and began encouraging his Twitter followers to vote for him as a write-in candidate for the Derby.

He even changed his Twitter avatar to a photo of him batting:

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Jordany Valdespin wasn’t wearing a cup when Justin Verlander nailed him in the nuts

Jordany-Valdespin-MetsA lot was made of New York Mets utility man Jordany Valdespin being hit in the man region by a Justin Verlander fastball on Monday, but many people do not understand the severity of the situation. Fortunately, Valdespin’s health has checked out fine. The thing that made the situation so scary is that he was not wearing a protective cup.

“You would think if you are starting at second base, you would be smart enough to wear a cup,” Mets manager Terry Collins said.

After he left the ballpark, the NY Post was told Valdespin wasn’t wearing a cup when he was drilled with a 94-mph fastball. Did he think you can’t get hit in the nuts during spring training just because the games don’t count? Infielders almost always wear a cup, and it’s probably smart for every position player to do the same. In fact, Valdespin proved that even designated hitters would benefit from using an athletic supporter.

“He took a hack at the first pitch and the next one — he already hit one bomb — and the next one he totally squared [toward] me,” Verlander explained. “And I’m like, ‘Oh God, this isn’t going to be good.’ Right out of the hand it’s like, ‘Oh, [bleep]! That is right at his [genitals].’”

Valdespin said everything is “working good” when reporters caught up with him after the painful experience. Collins has warned the 25-year-old about some of his antics potentially getting him into trouble, such as irritating Washington Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg a couple of weeks ago when he faked a bunt to lead off a spring training game. If you want to get under the skin of opposing pitchers, it’s probably even more critical that you protect the family jewels.

Kate Upton denies she is dating Justin Verlander: ‘I’m single right now’ (Video)

Kate-Upton-singleThere has never been actual confirmation that Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander and Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Kate Upton are an item. Family members have seemed to confirm that the two are dating, but Verlander avoided the subject when he was asked about it back in October. On Thursday, Upton provided the most concrete information we have heard since the rumors began.

During an interview with FOX 2’s Jason Carr, Upton was asked about her rumored vacation in the Virgin Islands with Verlander around New Year’s. She was also asked if they planned to go public with their romance anytime soon, and that’s when things got a bit awkward.

“Actually I’m single right now,” Upton replied. “So, um, I spent my holiday in Melbourne, Fla.”

Everyone enjoyed a good laugh after that, but Upton didn’t look like she was joking. Were the rumors never true? Did Verlander and Upton split up? Is this my chance? Talk about a mind-blow.

H/T Big League Stew

Justin Verlander sounds interested in exploring free agency

Justin-Verlander-TigersJustin Verlander is set to become a free agent at the end of the 2014 season if the Detroit Tigers do not sign him to an extension before then. Earlier this week, the Seattle Mariners signed ace Felix Hernandez to a seven-year, $175 million deal. Hernandez is only 26 and already one of the best pitchers in the game, so the deal can be considered somewhat of a hometown discount for the Mariners. What does it mean for Verlander?

Verlander won the American League Cy Young and MVP awards in 2011. He has led the AL in strikeouts in three of the past four seasons and has been incredibly durable, pitching more than 200 innings in every season since 2007. The right-hander will be 31 in 2014, and speculation has already begun that he could be the first pitcher ever to ink a $200 million contract. On Tuesday, John Paul Morosi of FOX Sports asked Verlander if he is curious about the open market.

“Absolutely,” he said. “I think that’d be a blast. If I have two more years like I just had, it would be pretty interesting. You know how competitive I am. It’s kind of fun thinking about having teams battle for you.”

That’s easy for Verlander to say at the moment, since the Tigers have not opened any type of discussion about a potential extension. However, he did add that he would love to stay in Detroit if the team had him in their long-term plans.

“If they were to start talking about an extension and say, ‘We only have a two-year window to win a World Series,’ that’s not exactly what I want to hear — and I don’t think that’s the case whatsoever,” he said. “You look at Mr. Ilitch. He’s been — in my opinion — the best owner in baseball. A year ago he signed a guy [Fielder] to a 9-year, $200-million-something dollar deal. That shows you it’s not just a ‘window’ plan. It’s a ‘future’ plan.

“If they did want to extend (my contract), obviously that would take quite a commitment on their part. That shows a sign, too, that they’re planning for the future.”

No matter how loyal a player is to his team, the concept of teams fighting it out for the right to spend $200 million on you is fun to think about. The Tigers are one of a handful of teams who can afford someone like Verlander. If they’re wise, they won’t let him hit the open market.

Photo credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

Justin Verlander won’t say if Kate Upton is his girlfriend

There has been intense speculation since July that Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander and supermodel Kate Upton are dating, and even family members seemed to have confirmed their relationship. But the reigning AL MVP won’t say whether or not Upton is his girlfriend.

“I’m not confirming or denying anything,” Verlander told USA Today’s Bob Nightengale.

Nightengale says Verlander laughed while giving his response, and acknowledged that even his teammates are curious.

“I’ll leave that to my grandfather. God bless him,” Verlander said.

Verlander was referring to his grandfather, Richard Verlander Sr., who seemingly confirmed in an interview with Celebuzz that his grandson and Upton were dating. Verlander seemed to find it pretty disturbing that media members called his grandfather to get a story.

“I never thought I’d have to prepare my grandfather for the media,” Verlander told USA TODAY Sports. “It’s a whole different world. I can’t believe that people would call my grandparents. It’s tough when people start trying to dig into your personal life.”

Verlander’s father, Richard Jr., expressed a similar sentiment, finding it odd that someone would reach out to his 87-year-old father for the story.

Between sports fans and Kate Upton fans, there is heavy public interest in the subject matter. We understand why Verlander would attempt to keep his relationship status private, but based on all the circumstantial evidence, it’s pretty obvious that they are dating. No need for Verlander to keep matters private — he should be proud!

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Justin Verlander’s grandfather seemingly confirms pitcher is dating Kate Upton

Thank goodness for the elderly and their honesty. Over the summer, rumors began swirling that Tigers ace Justin Verlander is dating swimsuit model Kate Upton. The gossip arose when Upton was spotted in Verlander’s suite at a Tigers game in July and a report claimed they attended an Aerosmith concert together and were getting “chummy” afterward. But it’s not like we heard any of this from Verlander’s own grandfather — until now.

Justin’s grandfather, Richard Verlander Sr., spoke to Celebuzz recently and all but confirmed his grandson and Upton are an item.

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Justin Verlander got Miguel Cabera an engraved watch to celebrate Triple Crown

Justin Verlander was one of the biggest Miguel Cabrera supporters this season as Miggy accomplished one of the rarest feats in baseball. Cabrera captured the coveted Triple Crown on Wednesday, becoming the first player in 45 years to lead the league in batting average, home runs and RBI. After the game, Verlander presented Cabrera with an engraved watch to congratulate him.

“It says, ‘Congratulations Miguel Cabrera, 2012 AL Triple Crown,’ on the back of it,” Verlander explained according to the Detroit Free Press. “I had the idea, and I asked a couple of guys whether it should be a team thing or from me personally. Prince (Fielder) said, ‘It might be special just from you.'”

Before we go any further, I have to ask — aren’t baseball players superstitious? It would have taken some unfortunate coincidences for Cabrera to not win the Triple Crown heading into Wednesday’s game, but I’m surprised Verlander had a watch engraved crowning him the Triple Crown winner before it actually happened. The again, this is the same guy who said it would be “a joke” if Miggy doesn’t win the AL MVP, so you know he is confident in his teammate’s abilities.

“We’ve been playing together for years now, and it’s kind of a special moment between two guys who are friends and teammates,” Verlander said. “I think we (Cabrera’s teammates) are all kind of in shock. It was an honor to be able to watch this entire season. I think some of us had to tell him how big of a deal it was. He’s the best player on the planet.”

Some would argue that Verlander is the best pitcher on the planet. And you know what the two best buddies would enjoy celebrating more than a Triple Crown or an AL MVP? Hint: it rhymes with curled theories.