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Justin Verlander bids goodbye to Tigers on Instagram

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On Thursday, Justin Verlander officially said goodbye to a 13-year career with the Tigers. The trade, made in the eleventh hour prior to the August 31 deadline, appears to be a prudent one for both the Tigers and Astros, but it understandably elicited some emotion from the right-hander. “Last night, I was given 45 minutes to make the hardest decision of my life,” Verlander told his Instagram followers in a thank-you video recorded Friday afternoon.

“Firstly, I want to thank everyone here in Detroit, from the front office to all of my teammates, and especially the fans,” Verlander said. “The way you guys have treated me over the last 12 years has been so special to me. Going all the way back to 2006, when this city was in turmoil, I remember the way everybody rallied around our team going to the World Series that year, what it meant to the city, and what a special time [it was] in my life.”

Despite all the warm and friendly feelings toward his former team, the righty doesn’t appear reluctant to hitch his wagon to a contender, even one that’s seen more than its share of struggles on and off the field this summer. “I’m excited to go to Houston,” he continued. “It’s another city in turmoil right now, as everybody knows. I’m excited to give the city something to rally around, something to cheer for and root for, and hopefully we can bring a championship to Houston.”

In the caption to his video, Verlander announced that he would continue to work with the city of Detroit through his foundation, Wins for Warriors, and expand to Houston “effective immediately” in order to aid the relief efforts centered around Hurricane Harvey.

His full video is below:

Bryce Harper will participate in the Home Run Derby if he makes the All-Star team

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Bryce Harper has, in recent years, declined participation in the Home Run Derby, with his last go at it coming in 2013, losing to Yoenis Cespedes in the final round. With the All-Star Game taking place at Nationals Park in Washington, however, he has changed his mind, saying today that he will compete if he is selected for the All-Star team.

Harper is currently second in voting among National League outfielders, so he stands a pretty good chance of making it. Even if he falls off in the voting, you have to assume that the powers that be will nudge NL manager A.J. Hinch to select Harper as a reserve, partially because of his actual power — he does have 19 homers so far this year — but mostly for his star power.

Simply put, you know dang well that both Major League Baseball and the Nationals want a home town guy with big time star power in the Derby, even if he’s not having as good a year as he’s capable of. As such, figure to see Harper hitting long balls in D.C. on July 16.