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

Zeke Fuhrman@@mellamoelzekeAnalyst IIIFebruary 12, 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 Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander says that would like to pitch for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic. Just not this year.

One month after a "maybe" from Verlander, he told reporters on Monday at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland, Fla. that he would pass on the WBC this season because he doesn't "want to feel rushed to catch up where I need to be."

Verlander was runner-up for last season’s American League Cy Young Award...one season after sweeping the AL Cy Young and AL MVP awards. He was also the first American League pitcher since Johan Santana in 2006 to win the AL pitching Triple Crown. 

He has led the AL in innings pitched three of the last four seasons, and tallied 266.2 innings last year, including his final start on Oct. 24 in Game 1 of the World Series.

Verlander has thrown 537 innings the last two seasons, so  he waited until January to start his offseason throwing program. It allows him plenty of time to get ready for the Tigers' season opener against the Minnesota Twins on April 1 and their quest to get back to the World Series.

A competitor like Verlander would want to be at his best on this kind of stage, and Verlander didn't want to play if he wouldn't be 100 percent ready. After last year's appearance in the World Series and a shorter offseason, he decided it was better to get ready for the MLB season...a season that he hopes brings him a rich extension that would keep him in Detroit for a long time and likely make him baseball's highest-paid player.

Verlander has won 41 games for the back-to-back AL Central Division champions. Getting swept in the 2012 World Series undoubteldy left a bitter taste in the mouth of Verlander, who gave up five earned runs in four innings in Game 1 after going 3-0 with a 0.74 ERA in three starts in the ALDS and ALCS. The Tigers are a favorite to win the weak AL Central again, and fans are relieved to know that Verlander will be ready to go against the Twins on April 1 as the Tigers look to win their first Championship since 1984.

Verlander is 0-3 in three World Series starts dating back to 2006.

Other WBC Notes:

Team USA added Washington Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez to the roster over the weekend to replace Atlanta Braves pitcher Kris Medlen.