Verlander: Tigers 'misdiagnosed' me in 2015, should've ordered MRI

The Detroit News
Justin Verlander looks on from the dugout as the Houston Astros play the Detroit Tigers last month.

Well, this isn't a good look for the Detroit Tigers.

Justin Verlander claims the Tigers' training staff misdiagnosed him with a triceps injury late in spring training in 2015.

He also questioned why they didn't immediately order an MRI.

“I knew something was wrong,” Verlander says in a lengthy and fascinating profile by Bleacher Report. “They take me out and misdiagnose me. … Didn’t get an MRI. Because it was so mild.”

Verlander had core-muscle surgery in January 2014, then went on to have a terrible 2014 regular season in which his velocity was down, he allowed more earned runs than any pitcher in the league and experts were beginning to speculate that his career was coming to an end. But he had bounced back in the spring of 2015. His velocity was back, as was the sharpness of his secondary pitches.

Then, in his final start of the spring, he came up lame while covering first base, and was immediately removed.

He began the season on the disabled list, and finally had an MRI in April. The results, the Tigers said, confirmed the original diagnosis.

It wasn't until a later MRI that results revealed a tear in his back.

That's when Verlander decided to keep his personal doctor, New York physical therapist Annie Gow — who he began seeing after undergoing the core-muscle surgery — involved in all future medical discussions. Verlander told Bleacher Report that after working with trainers, he would FaceTime with Gow.

“I was the eyes,” Gow said. "And I used his trainer as my hands.”

Justin Verlander's Tigers career was mostly stellar, outside of a couple injury-plagued seasons.

Bleacher Report reached out to the Tigers, who wouldn't discuss Verlander's medical history, citing HIPAA laws. The Tigers declined comment on Verlander's claims. Kevin Rand was the Tigers head athletic trainer during the period in question; he now is senior director of medical services, with Doug Teter the head athletic trainer.


Verlander, now 35 and pitching for the Houston Astros, returned for the second half of 2015 and finished strong, posting a 3.38 ERA and 1.088 WHIP in 20 starts. His first full season back, 2016, he finished second in the American League Cy Young Award voting.

In the Bleacher Report piece, Verlander, a leading candidate for another Cy Young Award, also opened up about his relationship to now-wife Kate Upton — including how she helped him, particularly as a sounding board, when he was going through the most trying times of his major-league career.

“She was instrumental in me not … like, jumping off a bridge,” Verlander said. “I was depressed and kind of just upset at the world and trying to hide my own (stuff).”