Justin Verlander worried that his Major League career might be over after a start against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Aug. 11, 2014.
Verlander's first pitch that night for the Detroit Tigers was an 86 mph fastball. After the first inning, Brad Ausmus approached Verlander to tell him that he could not allow the right-hander to continue.
It was the shortest start of his career and he feared it might be his last.
"There's that tunnel down there, and I sat down and lost it," Verlander said. "I thought my career was over. I thought I was done. I thought the MRI was going to say I needed shoulder surgery.
"I was 99 percent sure I was going to need shoulder surgery. I couldn't throw a baseball."
As it turned out, the pain in Verlander's shoulder during the 2014 start against the Pirates resulted from a failure to fully rehabilitate after the core muscle surgery earlier that year. "My body was a disaster," Verlander said.
Once the 2014 season ended, Verlander worked diligently with Annie Gow, a New York-based physical therapist, on what he describes as a "body reclamation project."
"I learned a ton about my body and maintenance," Verlander said. "Now I take it upon myself to maintain everything that I gained in that offseason. If some kinks in the chain pop up along the way, I'll call [Gow] and talk to her. I'll address it myself. I know a lot of my weaknesses. I address them almost daily, to try to keep on top of it. Obviously, I got into that position [before]. I want to stay away from going back."