Hitting in NL park, pitchers to focus on contact

Hitting in NL park, pitchers to focus on contact

Hitting in NL park, pitchers to focus on contact
DETROIT -- Justin Verlander has no shortage of historic stats and honors on his resume, including two no-hitters. One of the few things he lacks in his illustrious career is a base hit.

If manager Jim Leyland can help it, Verlander won't be trying to break his hitting slump with a home run in the World Series. For that matter, Leyland would rather none of his starting pitchers get caught up in swinging for the fences.

They took their swings Sunday afternoon in batting practice at Comerica Park, and they'll take some more Monday. But what Leyland wanted them to focus on was contact, at least advancing a potential runner.

"The emphasis is really on bunting, and the emphasis is really on having a short stroke and hit the ball up the middle," Leyland said. "Don't try to hit the ball up the middle, because you're going to be wasting your time if you do. If you're going up there with the delusion you're going to hit a home run in the World Series, you're wasting your time swinging like that. You're not going to do too good."

The only pitchers taking batting practice, Leyland said, are the ones scheduled to start in the National League city. Justin Verlander and Doug Fister are slated to start Games 1 and 2, so they hit. So did Rick Porcello and Drew Smyly, two starters turned relievers who could be needed if one of the starters is scratched from the rotation or pulled early.