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Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander to start season on injured list

 WBN  |    Mar 5th, 2024 12:04pm EST

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander will open the season on the injured list after dealing with right shoulder inflammation during the offseason.

Astros manager Joe Espada said Tuesday the 41-year-old Verlander hasn’t suffered any setbacks but needs more time to become game ready.

“He’s doing very well, but we’re just running out of days here, and we won’t be able to build him up enough to start the season,” Espada told reporters. “It’s just a timing issue. We want to do what’s best for J.V. and our club, and this is what’s best for us right now.”

Verlander hasn’t experienced any soreness in his shoulder after bullpen sessions, the manager said. The three-time Cy Young Award winner is expected to throw in the bullpen again on Friday but has yet to face hitters.

“We want to make sure to do it smart and not fast,” Espada said. “We need him for the long haul. It’s a long season, and we need a healthy J.V. throughout the season.”

Verlander is expected to return early in the season. He called the injury “a little hiccup’’ in February but said he will be “really cautious on how I’m building up.’’

Verlander signed an $86.7 million, two-year deal with the New York Mets ahead of the 2023 season but was traded back to Houston on Aug. 2. He helped the Astros win their sixth AL West crown in seven seasons before they lost to Texas in the AL Championship Series.

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB