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Published: Saturday, 8/5/2006

Verlander will give arm a rest


DETROIT - Justin Verlander might be tied for the most wins in the major leagues, but he's still a rookie expected to pitch far more innings than ever before in his career.

The Tigers are taking precautions with Verlander, hinted at earlier in the season, and skipping him in the starting rotation tomorrow. He will rejoin the rotation in his spot on Friday on the road against the White Sox.

"We knew all along we were going to have to do it," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "We're doing it now rather than later."

Verlander's impressive record is 14-4 and his 2.79 ERA is second in the American League.

In his place the Tigers will start Wil Ledezma, who made 10 starts for Detroit last season and started the year in the Mud Hens rotation.

This season Ledezma is 1-1 with a 4.11 ERA in 11 appearances for the Tigers.

Verlander has thrown 1351/3 innings this year. Last year, his first year of professional baseball, he pitched 130 innings, mostly in the minors. He said he was "definitely not hurting."

"I was a little fatigued the last time out, so [it's] to be on the precautionary side," Verlander said.

"It's better to do it now than in September. Right now I think missing one start may not affect us as much as it could down the road."

CLOSER TALK: Jason Davis became the only pitcher on the Indians roster with a save this season, after Bob Wickman's departure, by closing out Cleveland's 7-6 win over Boston Thursday night.

"It was great to see. It was great for him, and great for us," Indians manager Eric Wedge said.

But Wedge does not believe in a closer-by-committee approach and will stick with Fausto Carmona, who has blown three saves in three tries.

"It doesn't work. You've got to have one guy be the guy," Wedge said. "We're going to keep giving Fausto those opportunities."

HONEY, IS THAT YOU? New Indians outfielder Shin-Soo Choo said his wife asked him after Thursday's game, "Are you really my husband?" Choo hit a grand slam off Boston pitcher Josh Beckett for his second major league home run.

"She couldn't believe it," Choo said. "I told her before the game I was facing the best pitcher in the major leagues, and if I get one hit out of four, that's pretty good."

BUNTS: Leyland said Mike Maroth might make a rehab start with the Mud Hens on Wednesday. If that happens, it would push back Humberto Sanchez's start. Sanchez was pulled after four innings on Thursday, with Hens manager Larry Parrish saying he felt "a little bit tight." The Tigers announced they signed their first-round draft pick, left-handed pitcher Andrew Miller, to a four-year contract. Miller will report to Lakeland, Fla., for workouts and then join Single-A Lakeland. He is guaranteed a September call-up to the Tigers for bullpen duty.

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