By MIKE COPPER
Dave Dombrowski holds elite job titles like president, chief executive officer and general manager for the Detroit Tigers.
But when it comes to Justin Verlander, Dombrowski has often watched with the same kind wonder that many of the fans have at how dominant the former Erie SeaWolves pitcher has become.
“Verlander is a rare, rare talent,” said Dombrowski, who spoke to the Erie media before Wednesday’s Eastern League game between the SeaWolves and Reading at Jerry Uht Park. “You rarely see guys like that come along, and I’m so glad he’s part of our organization. I don’t think there’s anything he could do on a consistent basis now that would surprise me. He’s a threat any time he goes out there to throw a no-hitter.”
Like last Friday.
Verlander, who briefly played for Erie in 2005, came within two outs of his third career no-hitter in Detroit’s 6-0 interleague victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates at Comerica Park. The right-hander is the American League’s reining Most Valuable Player and Cy Young award winner.
Dombrowski, 55, arrived in Erie shortly before Tuesday’s game in his first appearance at Uht Park since 2010. He was scheduled to watch Wednesday’s game and then double back to Cleveland Thursday, when the Tigers will conclude their series with the Indians.
Dombrowski also commented on the Tigers’ short-term and potential long-term commitment to Erie as their Double-A affiliate. The parent club extended its player development contract with the SeaWolves through 2014, which was made shortly after the franchise reached an agreement to extend its lease with the Erie County Convention Center Authority for that same duration.
“The Eastern League is really the Double-A league we would prefer to be in,” Dombrowski said. “Erie is only four hours away (from Detroit), so it’s not a very far drive from there or (Triple-A) Toledo. If we had to get somebody up to the big leagues from here, we could quite easily.”
The extended question-and-answer session with Dombrowski will appear in Sunday’s Erie Times-News sports section.