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On the eve of his second All-Star appearance in St. Louis next week, Detroit Tigers’ pitcher, Justin Verlander took the time out of his busy schedule to greet his eager fans in Davison, Mich. Verlander signed autographs at the Jim Waldron Buick-Pontiac-GMC dealership on Thursday afternoon.

He is tied with San Francisco’s Tim Lincecum as the Major League leader in strikeouts, with 141 and coming off a six-inning, 11-strikeout performance on Tuesday night in a victory against Kansas City. Fans were piling up from all cities and states, including a family from North Carolina who drove 11 hours to catch a glimpse of the star!

Before he began his session, he participated in a 5 minute interview with the press (…I was with ABC 12) and here is what he had to say…

It’s obvious that you could represent any dealership in Michigan, why did you pick Jim Waldron?

JV: I came out here and had to meet Jim and had a feel for about what was going on here at Jim Waldron’s and really their integrity and just their personableness and really everything you want from someone that sells you a car. Not only that but I consider Jim a friend and now that I’ve had the chance to meet him and work for him a few years now so it’s more than just a business relationship, I really enjoy doing this.

Talk about yourself a bit, did you ever imagine yourself with 2 all-star appearances in your first four years? What’s the feeling?

JV: I’m really excited about it but at the same time it’s kinda surreal because you kinda sit down and imagine these sorta things but you dont really envision it happening so quickly. To have two out of my first four and really my first year, I had the vote to have the chance to go. You know, it’s pretty amazing. So this second time going, I will take things a little bit easier because my first time I kinda did everything that was asked of me and it was kind of a whirlwind. I never got a chance to sit down and enjoy it and take it for what it’s for but this time I will kinda relax, have a good time, and enjoy the show.

What are you looking forward to the most at this time?

JV: I like meeting guys, the last time I got the opportunity to talk to some guys in the outfield out there in the batting practice.  The fun thing is, you go to those cities in the second half and all of a sudden you know this guy and you’ve met him and talked to him in the outfield so you go over and check to see how things are going. I enjoy that aspect of it. 

What’s the biggest difference for you this year? Obviously leading the league in strikeouts, doing great things, and your control is a lot better too. You’re not throwing the ball away as much…

JV: Right…well, I made some minor adjustments and it’s funny how little things can have a major impact on you so I lowered my arm angle just a little bit (and) worked on some things that I felt werent too good last year but (that I felt) can really change me this year. So I just took the time in the spring and made some adjustments and I’m glad they paid off.

What about the team with all the high expectations last year and you’re doing what they expected you to do this year from last year by being in first place…

JV: We’re just having fun playing baseball. We have a good team, we know we have a good team and it’s just a matter of continuing to play well. I think a big positive for us is that we play so well at home. I think that goes well for us.

How do you feel about fans? With the economy so bad, people are still turning out to the stadium again and then to come up here to the Flint area, where it’s just as bad if not worse than the Detroit area, how do you feel about coming to meet some of these guys?

JV: That’s really special to have the fans come out and support us when I know it’s tough times for just about everyone. I really hope and think that we would have the opportunity to do something for the city and kinda bring some life back into it kinda like the older teams of Detroit Tigers history has done so that’s a lot of weight on our shoulders but I think we can handle it. I think we (should)  just go out and have fun and kinda give people a chance to step out and get away from their everyday lives.