Originally posted on Fox Sports Detroit  |  Last updated 10/24/12
SAN FRANCISCO When you've won your league's MVP and Cy Young Award, when you've been the Rookie of the Year, when you've won 24 games in a season and made All-Star teams, there's very little left to accomplish except perhaps the most important thing winning a World Series. Things have changed a lot since Justin Verlander was a rookie in the 2006 World Series. Now Verlander is the veteran ace, the stopper, the one his teammates turn to when they need to win. "I think you appreciate the moment more," said Richard Verlander, Justin Verlander's father. "Everything's so overwhelming your rookie year. This year, it's more of a moment that he should appreciate." Verlander, now 29, has admitted that reaching the World Series his first season put some unrealistic expectations in his mind about what's possible in baseball. "I think I had a rude awakening in the years after that, and I think it allows me to appreciate it all the more that I'm here now and getting the opportunity to start Game 1 again," Verlander said."Like I said, just being able to take it in a little bit more, having some experience under my belt and having been in situations like this allows me not to be so wideeyed and be a little calmer and take things in." Richard Verlander said he noticed a difference in his son after he won the deciding Game 5 in Oakland after the Tigers had blown a lead in Game 4. "The biggest difference I noticed this year is I think after Justin's win in Oakland, he was probably happier on a personal level than I've ever seen him," Richard Verlander said. "This is more about the team. They have something special here, I think. They really do. It's not nine guys out there. You can see it." Manager Jim Leyland was asked before Game 1 whether he had seen anything like what Verlander has accomplished in the last couple of years. "Probably not, to be honest with you," Leyland said. "We're blessed. We really have three superstars (Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, Verlander) on our team, and that's one of the reasons that we've been very good, and that's one of the reasons that we've attracted a lot of people to our ballpark, because they draw people. He's obviously been fantastic. He's a great pitcher, and I think he's matured a lot. "No matter how good you are, it takes time to get acclimated and make adjustments as you go along, and he's made those adjustments pretty good." Avila starts Game 1 The way Leyland had his lineup down the stretch and into the playoffs was that when a left-hander started for the opposing team, Gerald Laird would catch. If a right-hander started, Alex Avila would catch. Yet despite left-hander Barry Zito starting Game 1 for San Francisco, Avila was in the lineup batting eighth. "First of all, if I don't play Alex one of these games, he's going to sit for about 10 days," Leyland said. "I think the other thing is he's had a very good rapport with Justin Verlander. He's caught him 23 times this year as opposed to nine for Laird." Avila has never faced Zito. Laird was 3-for-15 (.200) with two doubles against him. All of Venezuela rejoices For such a small country, Venezuela is well-represented in the World Series. The Tigers have Cabrera, Omar Infante, Anibal Sanchez, Avisail Garcia and the Giants have Jose Mijares, Hector Sanchez, Pablo Sandoval, Marco Scutaro and Gregor Blanco. Also injured designated hitter Victor Martinez is from Venezuela. Both managers were asked about it. "I just think it starts when they're so young over there," Leyland said. "That's what they do over there. It seems like if you're a young boy in Venezuela, you play baseball. "We're very fortunate. Certainly we have some very good ones and we have had in the past. Magglio (Ordonez) and (Carlos) Guillen were in the World Series in 2006 for us. So I think it's just the country, the kids over there like to play and they're excellent players." Giants manager Bruce Bochy played winter ball in Venezuela. "They have just a great passion for baseball," Bochy said. "As far as I know, iI'm pretty sure it is their national sport there. There's some great players that have come out of Venezuela. So I'm not surprised to see that many players here in the World Series that are just great players and have played the game all their life. "They play the game in their country probably similar to how we played it here 50-60 years ago. They all played as kids growing up. You drive around the country and you see them playing sandlot baseball."
MORE FROM YARDBARKER:
The Weirdest Trade In Baseball History
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

WATCH: Draymond Green mocks LeBron James after flop

Andy Reid: Chiefs can win with Alex Smith

Romo likely to pick team he wants to be traded to

David Ortiz slams door on rumors of potential comeback

JJ Watt said to be ahead of schedule in back injury recovery

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Seahawks expect Earl Thomas to be ready for 2017 season

SD moving companies refusing to help Chargers relocate

Brown could be fined for sharing Tomlin's speech on Facebook

Future denies being on Falcons sideline to mess with Wilson

Green to wear 'Sideline Racism' shoes on MLK Day

Bill O'Brien refuses to commit to Osweiler as Texans' starter

The 2017 Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot, Part 1

The week in NFL news as explained by Heart

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

The Mulligan: Why Chip Kelly deserves a second chance after the Niners

College coaches on the NFL's radar as the coaching carousel starts spinning

Best of Yardbarker: How to hop on NFL playoff bandwagons

Everything sports fans need to know about the Nintendo Switch

TailGreater: Picking the NFL divisional round games by hometown brews

The sports classic horror villains would play

Guilt-free guide to NFL playoff bandwagon fun

Box Score 1/13: Warming up for the playoff weekend

Complicated feelings for Tyreek Hill, others as playoffs progress

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The 2017 Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot, Part 1

The week in NFL news as explained by Heart

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

QUIZ: Name every Pittsburgh Steelers Defensive Pro-Bowler in the Super Bowl Era

Best of Yardbarker: How to hop on NFL playoff bandwagons

Everything sports fans need to know about the Nintendo Switch

The sports classic horror villains would play

Complicated feelings for Tyreek Hill and others as playoffs progress

NFL Divisional Round watchablity index

QUIZ: Name the 12 members of the San Diego Chargers in the NFL Hall of Fame

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker