Verlander has lat strain, unlikely to be ready for opener

Local Sports

Houston Astros pitcher Justin Verlander walks in the dugout after pitching to the St. Louis Cardinals in the first inning of a spring training baseball game, Tuesday, March 3, 2020, in Jupiter, Fla. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP/KXAN) — Houston ace Justin Verlander has a mild strain of a back muscle and said it would “probably take a miracle” for him to pitch in the Astros’ opener at Oakland on March 26.

The reigning AL Cy Young Award winner was hurt on his second-to-last pitch in Sunday’s exhibition game against the New York Mets.

He had an MRI on Monday and was diagnosed with a strained latissimus dorsi muscle.

There is not a timetable for his return. Verlander had a similar lat injury during spring training in 2015 and did not make his season debut until June 13. 

Verlander pitched two of his scheduled four innings Sunday against the New York Mets before leaving the game as a precaution, according to Astros skipper Dusty Baker.

After the game, Baker told the media they pulled Verlander with some triceps soreness. The 37-year-old Verlander was slowed by a groin injury earlier in spring training.

Last year, Verlander pitched 223 innings to lead baseball in innings pitched on his way to the AL Cy Young Award.

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