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Justin Verlander to AJ Hinch: 'There's no place like Detroit' when Tigers are winning

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Detroit — The ace and the disgraced.

New Tigers manager A.J. Hinch and former Tigers star pitcher Justin Verlander forever will be linked for their World Series championship in 2017 with the Houston Astros.

On Friday, Verlander sent Hinch a text message congratulating him on his new gig, which comes after he served a one-year suspension for his role in the sign-stealing that rocked Major League Baseball and forever will be the headline for the 2017 World Series-champion Astros.

Houston Astros pitcher Justin Verlander, right, listens to manager A.J. Hinch during a press conference introducing Verlander on Sept. 3, 2017, in Houston.

"He sent me a message this morning raving about what Detroit is like when the team is winning," Hinch said. "There's no place like it, he said."

Verlander would know. He was the premier star of arguably the greatest stretch of sustained Tigers success in franchise history.

Verlander led the Tigers to five postseason appearances and two World Series, and won a Cy Young, MVP and rookie of the year award, all while in Detroit. He threw two no-hitters for the Tigers.

With the Tigers embarking on a long rebuild, Verlander was dealt to Houston at the last second in August 2017, then went 5-0 down the stretch in the regular season for the Astros, and 4-1 in the postseason.

For Houston, Verlander, 37, finished second in Cy Young voting in 2018, and won it in 2019, when the Astros made the playoffs again.

Verlander missed the shortened 2020 season and will miss all of 2021 as he recovers from Tommy John surgery. At the end of 2021, he will be a free agent — putting a possible reunion with Hinch and the Tigers on the crazier-things-have-happened radar. Most baseball insiders expect the Tigers to be legitimate contenders or at least competitive in 2022.

"JV and I developed a great relationship," Hinch said.

"He's an all-timer, Hall-of-Famer, incredible competitor."

tpaul@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @tonypaul1984