Justin Verlander on Derek Jeter: 'He's a class act'
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LAKELAND, Fla. - Justin Verlander recalled walking in the bowels of Yankee Stadium during his rookie season in 2006 and seeing Derek Jeter go by.
"He gave me a head nod," Verlander said with a smile Friday morning before the Yankees beat the Tigers, 7-4, on the strength of homers by Brian McCann, Gary Sanchez, Jose Pirela and Yangervis Solarte. "I was like, 'Oh, that's kind of cool.' "
Verlander said he was not surprised by Jeter's retirement announcement, other than that it was on Facebook, a common response.
Verlander hasn't dominated the Yankees as he has other teams in his career -- 5-5 with a 3.84 ERA -- and Jeter has hit him especially well, batting .364 (16-for-44) with a .429 OBP.
"He's been a class act, on top of being a Hall of Fame baseball player," Verlander said. "He's done it the right way. I think that's why he's so mutually respected from everybody in the game. And I think you'll see that this year when he's doing his farewell tour. The admiration and respect that he's going to get is right up there with Mariano."
Tigers first-base coach Omar Vizquel, who played in the majors from 1989-2012, has long admired Jeter.
"He was always in the place at the right time and came through with a key hit or key stolen base," Vizquel said. "He was always doing something to make a difference in the game, and I think that's what separates the great ones from the average guys."
No regrets for Joba
Joba Chamberlain sported a beard and about 20 fewer pounds, the two most noticeable differences from his final seasons with the Yankees. The 28-year-old righthander signed with the Tigers this offseason and said he was not bitter toward the Yankees, who did not want him back.
"Sometimes change isn't the easiest thing, but sometimes it's the best," he said.
Chamberlain, who immediately said "Aug. [4-7], a Monday through Thursday," when asked if he knew when the Tigers visit the Bronx, said he doesn't know what to expect from Yankees fans.
"I couldn't thank the fans enough," he said. "They were a huge part of me being there and the success I had. I gave them everything I got every time. Sometimes it was short, sometimes I was terrible, but I had a great run."
RHP Jose Ramirez, a candidate to win a bullpen spot, described himself as "exasperated" by his recent setback. MRIs on his back and oblique came back negative, but the pitcher is still sore in both. He will be sidelined for an indeterminate time, Girardi said.
Look at the locals
Rocky Point High School grad Danny Burawa, who pitched at St. John's, walked one in a scoreless fifth inning . . . RHP Matt Daley, a Garden City graduate, said he's over the calf issue that sidelined him a couple of days and is likely to pitch Sunday or Monday.