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Verlander ‘behind schedule’ due to shoulder issue

verlander-‘behind-schedule’-due-to-shoulder-issue
Verlander ‘behind schedule’ due to shoulder issue
  • ESPN

Feb 14, 2024, 10:22 AM ET

Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander is dealing with a shoulder issue that has delayed his spring training timeline and could jeopardize his status for Opening Day.

Verlander told reporters Wednesday that he is “a couple of weeks behind” his traditional schedule after experiencing a “little hiccup” in his pitching shoulder.

“I’m a little bit behind schedule right now,” Verlander said. “I had a little hiccup early on that’s resolved itself, but I have to be really cautious with how I’m building up.

“I guess my body doesn’t respond the same at 40 as it did at 25, so I’m a couple of weeks behind.”

Verlander, who turns 41 next week, did not appear concerned about an extended absence and said it was “too far down the road” to worry about his availability for the Astros’ season opener in six weeks. But the three-time Cy Young Award winner also acknowledged that he is on a “tight timeline” and said he will prioritize rest.

“I’ve always liked to give myself as much rest as possible, so my timeline is always a little tight,” he said. “I think that rest is important, so with the tight timeline and having to slow things down a little bit, put me a little behind.”

Verlander said his shoulder “didn’t feel so great” while playing catch recently and emphasized that he wants to remain “diligent about my buildup.”

“I’ve always been someone who luckily could pick up a ball and just start throwing it,” he said. “This time, it wasn’t quite as easy, so I had to slow down a little bit.”

Verlander missed the first five weeks of last season after suffering a muscle strain near his pitching shoulder in late March. The nine-time All-Star pitched just 162⅓ innings last season, the lowest total in his 18-year career outside of the COVID-shortened 2020 campaign, but went 13-8 with a 3.22 ERA in 27 combined starts with the Astros and New York Mets.

The Astros open their season March 28 against the New York Yankees.

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