Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander turned 30 on Wednesday, hopes to be pitiching for the Tigers into his 40s.
“I have a long time left,” Verlander said via the Associated Press. “I don’t even look at it as reaching the halfway mark. I’ve got a lot of pitches left in me, and I don’t know what it’s like to be 30 since I haven’t done that yet.”
Verlander, the 2006 AL Rookie of the Year, and 2011 AL Cy Young Award winner and MVP, went 124-65 with a 3.40 ERA in his 20s. He's had no major arm surgeries and can still throw 100 mph.
Tigers manager Jim Leyland recalls the first time seeing Verlander in 2006.
“I saw that he could throw hard, but I didn’t know anything about him,” Leyland said. “I didn’t know much about anyone on this team except that they hadn’t been very good in a long time. Who could have known?”
Leyland said with the talent Verlander has, he can play for a long time.
“He’s got a lot left in him, and I didn’t know he was turning 30 until now,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “Thirty doesn’t matter if you’ve got the talent, and Verlander’s got it.”
April 1, at Minnesota, could be Verlander's sixth straight opening-day start. He is expected to start his first exhibition game Sunday against Philadelphia in Lakeland.
Verlander is due to make $20 million in each of the next two seasons as part of an $80 million, five-year contract he signed in January 2010. Verlander is likely to get a huge raise if he becomes a free-agent after the 2014 season. But says he like playing in Detroit.
“I like playing for this team,” Verlander said. “Detroit is a great place to play, and I can see myself here for a long time.”