Report: Justin Verlander Says No to Team USA and 2013 World Baseball Classic

Ron Juckett@ronjuckettContributor IIIFebruary 11, 2013

DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 16:  Justin Verlander #35 of the Detroit Tigers throws a pitch against the New York Yankees during game three of the American League Championship Series at Comerica Park on October 16, 2012 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

In a move that Detroit Tigers fans wanted to hear, Justin Verlander told Joe Torre and Team USA that he will not be pitching in this year’s World Baseball Classic.

At a press conference today in Lakeland, Fla., Verlander (via Bob Nightengale) said the reason he gave was that he is behind schedule this year and does not want to fall further behind:

Verlander says he's behind in schedule so told Joe Torre he can't go in WBC #Tigers

— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) February 11, 2013

Tigers fans will be happy that he will not be pitching meaningful baseball before the start of the season as Detroit tries to repeat as American League champions.

Coming off a year which saw Verlander go 17–8 with an ERA of 2.64 and a league-high strikeout total of 239, the feeling starting the season is that Verlander’s focus needs to be on the Tigers the entire time.

Still this is a definite blow for Team USA’s chances in the upcoming WBC.

Torre, USA’s manager this time around, really wanted to have the ace on his roster as the group—which contains Canada, Mexico and the Dominican Republic—is one of the toughest in pool play.

With a weak American team and the loaded Japanese and Venezuelan rosters awaiting in the later rounds, the chances of team USA winning the classic are very slim.

While Major League Baseball’s corporate office in New York will be scratching their heads as to how they can get better participation from American players in the future, Detroit fans will no longer have to worry about Verlander taxing himself too much too early.

Follow me on Twitter @ronjuckett

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