Justin Verlander weighs in on ugly history with new teammate Erick Aybar
Justin Verlander and new teammate Erick Aybar have a shared history, something that created the potential for serious awkwardness in the Detroit Tigers clubhouse.
But the Tigers ace, in the interest of team harmony, insists that it’s time to move on from the arguable ugliness that transpired five years ago and welcome Aybar, acquired in a trade this week with the Atlanta Braves, into the fold.
The incident in question that is the source for some bad blood between Aybar and Verlander occurred in 2001 when Aybar, then a member of the Los Angeles Angels, attempted to break up Verlander’s bid for a no-hitter by laying down a bunt in the eighth inning.
Aybar reached on an error and advanced to second base on Verlander’s errant throw to first base. Verlander’s no-hit bid was thwarted later in the inning after he surrendered a two-out single to Maicer Izturis.
Suffice to say, Verlander wasn’t happy with Aybar’s bunt attempt, and called him out on it after the game.
“Very surprised,” Verlander said at the time of the bunt attempt, via Mlive.com’s Chris Iott. “It’s a three-run game. It’s a close game. There’s arguments both ways, but obviously from a pitching standpoint, we like to call it Bush League. But there’s arguments on both sides of it.”
But time heals all wounds and the fact that Aybar is now Verlander’s teammate has made it all a moot point. At least that’s the story Verlander is telling now, saying he’ll forgive and forget.
Yes, Verlander remembers Aybar bunt: "I haven't hit him like I said I would, so at least that's a good thing when he gets to the clubhouse."
— Jason Beck (@beckjason) August 17, 2016
Justin Verlander said 2011 bunt attempt flap w/ Eric Aybar "water under the bridge": "Everything changes when a guy becomes your teammate."
— Katie Strang (@KatieStrangESPN) August 17, 2016
Verlander is right that it makes no sense now to hold Aybar accountable for something that happened five years ago. A teammate is a teammate, irrespective of the past, even if a violation of the so-called “Unwritten Rules of Baseball” were involved.