Justin Verlander set for Game 3

Updated: October 3, 2011, 3:05 AM ET
By Adam Rubin | ESPNNewYork.com

NEW YORK -- After Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander's start was suspended Friday after a 25-pitch inning, forcing Doug Fister to take over when Game 1 resumed the following evening, Verlander volunteered to start Sunday in Game 2 against the New York Yankees.

The discussion with manager Jim Leyland did not last long.

"Hey, skip, I can go on Sunday," Verlander told Leyland.

"No, you're going on Monday," Leyland replied.

So Monday at Comerica Park, it will be Verlander vs. CC Sabathia, Take 2.

The Game 3 outing should be Verlander's final start -- and likely appearance -- of the series.

Had Leyland allowed Verlander to pitch Sunday, the ace suggested it would have been too much for him to come back on short rest Thursday in a potential Game 5 anyway. That's because it would require him to strenuously exert himself three times in a seven-day span, including the abbreviated outing in Game 1.

Asked how he felt Sunday morning, the day before what technically will be his second start of the series, Verlander said: "I haven't played catch yet. I would assume I feel pretty good. I felt pretty good yesterday, so hopefully if it progresses as normal, I'll feel pretty doggone strong today."

Said Leyland: "I think he's doing great. He actually would have pitched today if I wanted him to. I didn't think that made much sense."

Verlander added that he did not feel cheated by being deprived of two full starts in the series. Frankly, Verlander said, he hopes the Tigers can win the series in four games. That way, whether he would be available for a Game 5 would not even be relevant.

"I would have liked to have been the guy to have two (starts), but we're a team," Verlander said. "We have been all year. We've got four other starters here with us. You just have to look forward. You can't look back. You have to do whatever we can to win here today so we go back home with an even series like we did in 2006."

Five years ago, the Tigers lost Game 1 of the ALDS in the Bronx, then won three straight against the Yankees to advance. Detroit ultimately lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series.

Leyland, meanwhile, does not sound inclined to use Verlander even in relief in Game 5 if the series goes the distance.

"I probably would rather not do that," Leyland said. "But Game 5, you'd probably do just about anything -- but not at the expense of hurting any pitcher, let alone one like that."

Verlander lightheartedly said he might not initiate another conversation with his manager if the series goes to five games.

"Maybe I'll just go down to the bullpen," Verlander said. "I know he won't let me. I've tried too many times before. He always says no and gets mad at me. If I go down there, and maybe if he sees me warming up, maybe he'll think differently."

Adam Rubin is a columnist and reporter for ESPNNewYork.com.

Adam Rubin has covered the Mets since 2003. He's a graduate of Mepham High School on Long Island and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He joined ESPNNewYork after spending 10 years at the New York Daily News.
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