Justin Verlander: 'The American League goes through us'

By Adam Wexler - Sports Anchor/Reporter

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - "I think we’re the team to beat.”

That was the message Justin Verlander had on day one of spring training for the World Series champion Houston Astros in West Palm Beach at their spring training home at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.

"I think the American League goes through us. The old saying is to be the best, you’ve got to beat the best and I think we proved we were last year,” Verlander said.

VIDEO: Justin Verlander says AL goes through Astros

Pitchers and catchers took the field for the first time Wednesday morning and while Verlander was a huge part of the Astros push to the playoffs and ultimately the World Series title, this is the first spring training as an Astro for the six-time All-Star.

"We won the World Series last year and got better this year, that’s a pretty good recipe for success,” Verlander said. "I’m excited to be here for a whole season. I’m excited to be here for spring training and to be a part of this whole thing from start to finish.”

He also made it clear where he thinks the Astros stand.

“The American League goes through us. That’s the way it is,” Verlander said. “Those teams are going to have to beat us. I like being in that position, I like having a target on our backs, it’s a good place to be.”

But Verlander also knows that they start again from the same spot as every other team.

"I think everybody in this locker room needs to understand it’s a new season and just because we won last year, we’re not afforded anything this season,” Verlander said. "I like this ball club even more than I did last year, which is saying a lot."

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