When making his decision whether or not to participate in the upcoming 2017 World Baseball Classic (WBC), Detroit Tigers ace pitcher Justin Verlander took counsel from a familiar baseball sage, former manager Jim Leyland. The skipper was a wildly successful manager of the Tigers from 2006-13, when he compiled 700 wins in Detroit. He is the manager of the United States team in the upcoming WBC and had a vested interest in having Verlander on the roster. Especially considering that Verlander was a Cy Young candidate in 2016.

Verlander talked to MLive recently and detailed his conversation with Leyland:

“He basically said, ‘Justin, as a manager, I want you to play. But as a friend, I would probably tell you that your health is more important than anything,'”

Representing one’s country is an opportunity that Verlander relishes, however, he ultimately decided not to participate this time around:

“Honestly, I wanted to play. To play for Team USA is something that I got to do in college, but this is a little bit different. To represent your country is something that I think is pretty special. You also have to take into account everything else and the bigger picture,” Verlander said. “That’s what I wanted to talk about Jim about. … If it were a different situation, I would have for-sure liked to have done it. That’s why I love Jim. He’s very honest and candid and tells you what’s on his mind.”

As a Tiger fan, here’s hoping that “the bigger picture” is a post-season run for Verlander and the boys from Detroit. Manager Brad Ausmus will have his hands full preparing the team for Opening Day. The list of players includes big names like Ian Kinsler, Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, Michael Fulmer, Alex Wilson, Francisco Rodriguez, and Bruce Rondon among others.

Ausmus told MLive that he expects some younger players to fill the Spring Training roster when the WBC players are gone in March.

“You’ll probably see a few more guys come up, just because we’re going to have fewer bodies,” he said. “In terms of preparation, it won’t change much. (The veterans) know what we do here. It’s just a matter of refreshing.”

The good news is, Ausmus will have Verlander around to help mentor the younger players while many of the veterans are away. For now, JV knows what time it is: Spring Training!

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