Tigers’ Justin Verlander gives up homer to brother Ben

LAKELAND, Fla. — Ben 1, Justin 0.

Justin Verlander gave up a home run during a minor-league game Thursday to his younger brother, Ben, an outfield prospect for the Detroit Tigers.

The Tigers’ right-handed ace was able to chuckle about it afterward.

“One epic swing for him,” Justin said. “I’m sure I’m going to be hearing about it. Probably glad I’m getting out of town.”

Ben Verlander added: “I got in there and I was telling myself to look for a first-pitch fastball, and the rest is history, I guess.”

“I wasn’t sure but I knew I hit it pretty well.”

Justin Verlander admitted there was “not much adrenaline” facing the minor-leaguers in his final tuneup of the spring.

“My instinct with those guys was to throw them tons of off-speed, because all they were putting decent swings on were fastballs,” he said. “They were just jumping the heater, but I wanted to continue to pitch.“

Of the home run he gave up to his brother, Verlander said:  “I wasn’t really trying to throw it in the middle, but … If that’s a different situation, it’s probably a different pitch.”

Justin Verlander didn’t do what he said he always planned to do if he faced his brother in a game.

“I’ve always told him my whole life I’m going to hit him,” Justin said. “I thought about throwing behind his back, but I decided to throw one right down the middle instead. I’m sure he’ll enjoy that for a long time.”

When he was told it was a good family moment, Justin Verlander grinned and said: “Yeah, for one part of the family. Yeah, that was pretty funny.  I wasn’t upset at all.”

It was the final tune-up of the spring for Verlander, who will pitch the season opener Tuesday in Miami against the Marlins.

Verlander had a 2.84 ERA this spring. He threw 77 pitches today, 55 for strikes.

“As long as my mechanics are good,” Verlander said. “I think last year, I showed there’s still plenty in the tank.”

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Posted by Tribune News Services

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