Justin Verlander throws off a mound, expects to be ready for the start of the 2014 season

23 Comments

Tigers ace Justin Verlander underwent surgery in January after injuring a core muscle during offseason conditioning and the initial expectation was that he’d be behind his fellow rotation mates when spring training began. But that might not be the case.

According to beat writer Chris Iott of MLive.com, the right-hander threw 20 pitches off a mound Monday at the Tigers’ spring training complex in Lakeland, Florida and told reporters afterward that the workout went “very well.” Verlander has mapped out a plan with Tigers pitching coach Jeff Jones that should allow him to appear in five Grapefruit League games and to take the mound on Opening Day (March 31) against the Royals.

Verlander, 30, posted a 3.46 ERA and 217 strikeouts in 218 1/3 innings last season for Detroit.

Beyond the conditioning injury, it’s safe to say that he spent his offseason wisely (via Getty):

source:

Mariano Rivera elected to Baseball Hall of Fame unanimously

Elsa/Getty Images
19 Comments

Former Yankees closer Mariano Rivera deservingly became the first player ever inducted into the Hall of Fame unanimously, receiving votes from all 425 writers who submitted ballots. Previously, the closest players to unanimous induction were Ken Griffey, Jr. (99.32% in 2016), Tom Seaver (98.84% in 1992), Nolan Ryan (98.79% in 1999), Cal Ripken, Jr. (98.53%), Ty Cobb (98.23% in 1936), and George Brett (98.19% in 1999).

Because so many greats were not enshrined in Cooperstown unanimously, many voters in the past argued against other players getting inducted unanimously, withholding their votes for otherwise deserving players. That Griffey — both one of the greatest outfielders of all time and one of the most popular players of all time — wasn’t voted in unanimously in 2016, for example, seemed to signal that no player ever would. Now that Rivera has been, this tired argument about voting unanimity can be laid to rest.

Derek Jeter will appear on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time next year. He may become the second player ever to be elected unanimously. David Ortiz appears on the 2022 ballot and could be No. 3. Now that Rivera has broken through, these are possibilities whereas before they might not have been.

Another tired argument around Hall of Fame voting concerns whether or not a player is a “first ballot” Hall of Famer. Some voters think getting enshrined in a player’s first year of eligibility is a greater honor than getting in any subsequent year. I’m not sure what it will take to get rid of this argument — other than the electorate getting younger and more open-minded — but at least we have made progress on at least one bad Hall of Fame take.