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Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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No-no shock to Verlander
Even Justin Verlander couldn't believe what he accomplished Tuesday night.
By EDUARDO A. ENCINA
Published June 17, 2007
Even Justin Verlander couldn't believe what he accomplished Tuesday night. Everywhere he went, people applauded. He received a standing ovation at dinner that night. His cell phone kept ringing with voice and text messages. And the Detroit pitcher had to watch the highlights from his first career no-hitter on the early morning SportsCenter to reaffirm it.
"I'd just go into a daze for a minute, like, 'Did that really just happen?' " Verlander said when asked to describe his state of mind after Tuesday's game. "I'd snap out of it, and then it would happen again."
He strengthened his case to be the AL's starting pitcher in the All-Star Game on July 10, especially since the AL manager, Tigers skipper Jim Leyland, had an up-close look at the 24-year-old's effort.
Verlander, who two seasons ago was pitching in Class A Lakeland, struck out a career-high 12 Brewers. In the ninth inning, his fastball was clocked at 102 mph, but he kept Milwaukee off balance with a heavy curve and an exemplary changeup.
"He's got electric stuff, " Brewers OF Bill Hall said. "It won't be his only no-hitter. There's nobody in the National League like him, not with the control and power that he has."
Detroit DH Gary Sheffield said he was on par with a young Roger Clemens.
"He has an overpowering fastball like Roger did when he came into the league and (Clemens) had other pitches he could go to, " Sheffield said. "When those pitches were working, you had no chance. I would compare him to my uncle (Dwight Gooden), but he was a two-pitch pitcher."
Let the comparisons begin.
"He's got the stuff to be the best pitcher in the game, " Tigers C Ivan Rodriguez said. "You can talk to all the hitters on all the teams how they feel facing him. They'll tell you. He's tough."
COVER JINX: This week's cover of Sports Illustrated features Mets general manager Omar Minaya, manager Willie Randolph and players Orlando Hernandez, John Maine, Oliver Perez and Endy Chavez.
Not seen is rookie reliever Joe Smith, who was part of the shoot, on the floor throughout, but was cropped out.
"I guess it was a rookie joke or something, " he said. "They moved me around three different times. The last one, he put me on the floor where they could easily say, 'This kid does not belong.' "
ONE FOOT OUT THE DOOR?: As rumors heat up that the Reds will trade LF Adam Dunn, he believes his days in Cincinnati are numbered. Dunn will become a free agent at the end of the season. The press box at Reds games has been noticeably packed with scouts from the Braves, Astros, Dodgers, White Sox and Tigers. With 1B Joey Votto learning to play left in Triple A and batting .314, there's reason to believe it.
"I've said it from Day 1: I'd like to stay here, but I know how this game is and how it works, " Dunn said.
FINALLY HOME: The Braves are the fourth organization for OF Willie Harris in his seven-year career, but he has caught on since his callup from Triple A to play leftfield when the Braves traded Ryan Langerhans. Giving the Atlanta offense the No. 2 hitter it had been looking for, Harris had a .396 average with 10 extra-base hits, eight stolen bases and a .460 OBP in 101 at-bats entering Saturday night.
AROUND THE HORN: RHP Kameron Loe's eight-inning effort Thursday was the first time Texas has a starter go more than seven innings this season. Every other team in the AL has had at least five starts of more than seven innings. ... The Nationals are last in the NL East and 10 games under .500, but they are 6-0 in games against Jake Peavy, John Smoltz, Cole Hamels and Johan Santana. ... Wednesday's win put the Yankees over .500 for the first time since April 21, when they were 8-7. ... RHP Masumi Kuwata, 39, who spent 20 seasons with the Tokyo Yomiuri Giants, made his major-league debut for the Pirates on Sunday, becoming oldest rookie in nearly 47 years. ... Giants rookie RHP Tim Lincecum lost for the first time as a pro Wednesday after 20 unbeaten starts. ... Royals RHP Brian Bannister enters his start today on a three-game winning streak, having allowed just one earned run in 22 innings over that span.
"I wish we would have moved. During that time, we were in the midst of the small-market thing. Weren't spending any money. Didn't have an owner. I thought it was a good opportunity to move and create excitement and get people back in the ballpark."
Former Royals great Frank White 10 years after Kansas City had the opportunity to move to the NL Central; the Brewers eventually moved. Milwaukee leads the NL Central and is drawing 15, 000 more fans a game than the Royals
"It's just weird to see the team playing, and my girls were like, 'Why aren't you at the game?' It's really tough to explain a two-game suspension to a 4- and 6-year-old."
Astros 1B Lance Berkman on watching his team on TV while serving a suspension
"This is a little bit of a Little League field. If you get it up in the air, you have a shot."
Phillies RHP Adam Eaton on Citizens Bank Park; he's one of four Phillies starters among the top 11 NL pitchers in home runs allowed
Here's a look at some of the top candidates to earn the starting pitching assignment in the All-Star Game on July 10. Teams are chosen July 1 (statistics through Friday).